Having your vehicle break down can be both frustrating and frightening. You are unable to get to your destination, and you may be blocking traffic causing other drivers to become angry at you. Furthermore, you may feel vulnerable to strangers.
There are, however, several things that you can do if your car breaks down to ensure your personal safety until help arrives. The following tips are adapted from The AAA Guide to Personal Safety.
Note Your Vehicle’s Location
When you call for assistance from roadside service or from law enforcement, you will need to be able to communicate your location. Be prepared with the name of the street you are on and the name of the intersection you are near. Note any easy to see landmarks such as a gas station, grocery store, or restaurant. If you are on a highway, try to remember the name of the nearest exit or a mile marker.
Stay in the Vehicle
Remain inside your vehicle if it is safe to do so. If you are able to move your vehicle off the road onto the shoulder or into a parking lot, do so. Generally speaking, safety experts agree that it is best to remain in your vehicle until law enforcement or roadside service arrives.
If you are concerned that your vehicle may get struck by another vehicle, then get out. However, do not stand directly in front of or behind your car as it may be difficult for other drivers to see you. You do not want to be too close to your vehicle in the event another vehicle hits it.
If you smell fuel, then refrain from lighting a cigarette or flares, and move a safe distance away from your vehicle.
Alert Other Motorists
Keep in mind that other vehicles may not be able to see your stalled vehicle from a distance, or may not immediately realize that it is stalled. This is particularly true at night or when the weather is bad. To alert other drivers that your car is stranded, turn on your hazards or raise your vehicle’s hood. If you have flares or warning triangles, place them approximately 50 feet behind your vehicle.
Communicate Your Situation
Call for roadside assistance. If you feel unsafe or if you are blocking traffic, also contact the police. In addition to protecting you the police will also manage traffic around your vehicle. Alert your spouse, significant other, or a friend of the situation and where you are.
Be Wary of Strangers
If a stranger approaches your car, lock your doors and roll up your windows. Open the window just a crack to communicate with the stranger.
If you must rely on the assistance of a seemingly friendly motorist or a passerby who offers you a ride, then ask for that person’s identification. Write down the person’s name, address and telephone number and leave it with your vehicle or with another person. Be ready to call 911 for help if a problem arises.
Know What to Expect from Emergency Roadside Service
When you contact your roadside service, find out how long you will have to wait for a technician. If you feel that you are not in a safe area, let the dispatcher know. Make sure you understand the type of service they will be able to provide to you based on your contract, and how much you may be required to pay at the time of service.
For example, if you ran out of gas, the roadside technician may be able to provide you with gas for a fee to be paid immediately. If you have a mechanical problem, your contract may provide for a free tow only to a nearby service center. On the other hand, if you want to be towed to a mechanic that is farther away from where you are stalled but close to your home, you may have to pay an additional fee.
In the meantime, while you are waiting for help, stay calm and alert. Your number one priority should be your safety and the safety of your passengers.
Where to Find Assistance
If you would like to find your nearest AAA store, open this link: https://midatlantic.aaa.com/About/StoreLocator
and click on the “My Local Store Search” button.
Here is information on other roadside services companies in Philadelphia
and Delaware County