Looking stressed and helpless while stranded on the highway with a busted engine or flat tire is every motorist’s worst nightmare. But car breakdowns do happen, and they’re both dangerous and costly.
So how do you ensure your safety during a roadside emergency? Here are some life-saving tips to keep in mind when your car breaks down on the highway.
At the first sign of a car breakdown, like a squealing or hissing sound while you drive, pull over to the roadside immediately.
Don’t stop in the middle of the road and try to fix your car or change your tire. You’ll just put yourself at risk, block the flow of traffic, and cause hassle to fellow motorists. Also, the MMDA doesn’t allow it on Metro Manila roads.
Just keep your cool while slowing down, smoothly taking your foot off the accelerator. Don’t brake hard or suddenly. If you can drive to the closest emergency bay, do it to avoid getting your car towed and issued a ticket for a traffic violation (e.g., illegal parking).
Carefully watch oncoming traffic through your car mirrors if you have to switch lanes. Remember to turn on your signal lights to warn drivers behind you that you’ll change lanes.
Be extra cautious when a truck, bus, or any huge vehicle is trailing you. As much as possible, stay away from them. Give them some space to go around you, or simply let them pass. Trying to get ahead of a vehicle larger than yours isn’t worth it when your safety is on the line.
If your car stalls in the middle of the road and you can’t pull it over to the side, don’t get out of the car. A driver who doesn’t see you might run over you. Turn your hazard lights on, plus your sidelights when it’s dark.
Once you’ve completely pulled over to the roadside, put a reflective triangle behind your car to alert other motorists that your car breaks down.
Call a family member, a nearby friend, your auto club (if you’re a member), or your car insurance provider for roadside assistance. It helps to note your location and any landmarks to help people find you.
Does car insurance cover breakdowns? It depends on your policy inclusions. Some car insurance companies provide emergency road assistance, including free towing and minor repair services when an insured car breaks down.
Should you accept help from a stranger? That’s your call. Just as there are well-meaning Pinoys who stop by to help distressed drivers on the road, there might be a scammer or thief who approaches a driver whose car breaks down.
Exercise good judgment when someone offers help. If the stranger behaves suspiciously, don’t let him get access to your car—just lower the window a bit so that you guys can talk. If help is already on its way, thank the person and politely decline the offer.
Emergencies like when a car breaks down while you’re driving can be nerve-wracking and risky. Be alert enough to look after your own safety in such a situation. But of course, reduce your chance of experiencing car breakdowns by inspecting your ride thoroughly before you take it out for a drive. Stay safe on the road always!