Even the best-made plans can go wrong. In spite of the efforts to maintain our vehicles in top shape, we may experience the occasional breakdown. Irrespective of the cause of the breakdown, you need to be prepared to take various steps to ensure your safety and that of any passengers, the wellbeing of the vehicle and of course, safety of other vehicles and others that use the road.
Safety for Everyone Comes First
Should you ever be faced with a vehicle breakdown, there are several actions that you will need to take. The first thing to do is to put on the hazard warning lights. After that, see if it is at all possible to move the car to the side of the road without placing yourself in any danger and be extremely cautious on motorways or faster dual carriageways in case of breakdown in these locations. If that’s not feasible, quickly check if you have a reflector warning signal (it’s triangular in shape) in the boot of your car. If you do, place it at a sufficient distance from your vehicle so that other drivers can see it. You definitely don’t want to make matters worse by someone colliding into your stationary vehicle, do you?
The next key task is to seek help. Inform your family and colleagues about the event, so that they can help expedite the process of getting help over to you. If you have breakdown cover on your vehicle, call the insurance company for more details or directly contact your chosen breakdown recovery service. For lone female drivers, it is especially important to alert others for help and support as statistics have shown women to be more at risk during an isolated breakdown.
Pinpoint Your Location
If your car has a GPS or Satellite Navigation on board, use it to pinpoint your location as accurately as you can. If you don’t have a GPS, try and use nearby signs along the road to gather as much information about your location as possible. The more information you provide, the faster you can expect help to reach you (especially if you’re stuck miles away from a town within a deserted area). If you have a smartphone or available laptop, try also to e-mail the details of your location to your breakdown provider.
If the towing truck or mechanic breakdown service is likely to take time to reach you, consider calling the police for help (do this along the motorway hard shoulder from the nearest telephone point if required) and always contact the emergency services on ‘999’ if you are in any form of potential danger. If you’re sitting inside the vehicle, don’t leave the engine on. Depending on weather conditions, try and keep the car windows open, so that there is circulation of fresh air inside the vehicle. In cases of motorway breakdown you should safely exit the car when it’s parked on the hard shoulder area and retreat well up the embankment out of harms way from oncoming motorway traffic.
Use Resources Carefully
If you can charge your mobile phone using the car battery, do so, but not at the expense of draining any required power needed for other car systems and always use sparingly. If you do not have food and water in the car, look around for places to buy basic supplies to keep you going as you wait for help. If it’s starting to get dark, you may be well advised to buy a torch as well. If you already have a torch in the car, keep it handy. In seasons of poorer weather such as snow in winter, it is an excellent idea to keep a change of warm clothing, shovel and spare blanket in the boot of your car in case you need these in an emergency.
Look for Amenities
If you’re travelling with family, and there are children in the car, check if there are any restaurants, hotels, lodging or other facilities close at hand. It does not make much sense for all of you to wait in the car. Always make sure that at least one adult is near the car, so that when help does arrive, the required paperwork can be completed quickly. Be aware too that such situations can be quite stressful, but preparing for the potential of breakdown in advance can only help you to overcome such an occurrence with ease and for those who have breakdown cover in place they will undoubtedly have additional peace of mind.