It happens to each one of us sometime in our driving life – you're out on the road when your car suddenly gives up the ghost.
Cars are streaming past you, there’s beeping horns and furious drivers going every which way – and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to get your car going again.
So what do you do?
The first rule of thumb: Don't panic. Take a few deep, calming breaths and put your thinking cap on. What's the safest thing you can do, right now? Here are a few ideas to keep you going until you can call for help:
- As soon as it’s safe (and if you can) pull off the road. If you’re on a busy highway or thoroughfare, it’s vital you stay safe. Try to pull onto the shoulder, a breakdown lane or service road if you can, so that you’re further away from moving traffic and the possibility of collision. Don’t forget to use your indicator to signal you're moving. Never try to push your car out of the way, though (see point 2).
- Make sure you’re visible. If you can’t get your car out of the line of traffic, do put your hazard lights on – especially if its dark or the weather is dicey. You can also lift your bonnet or tie something bright to the radio antenna or driver’s door handle. If you're in danger of being hit from behind, exit your car – but only if it is safe to do so and you can see a more sheltered location nearby. Always observe for oncoming vehicles and exit the car from the side furthest from the traffic. When fast moving cars are a problem, forget manually pushing your car out of harm’s way – this will only exacerbate your chances of injury. Finally, don't stand behind or in front of your vehicle while you wait for roadside assistance – you might make it harder for other motorists to see you.
- Check where you are. The great thing about smartphones is that most have accurate GPS capabilities. Once you and your car are safe, make a note of where you are using your smartphone map app. You’ll need this information when you call for assistance.
- Write down notes if you feel stressed. It can be disconcerting if you've had a mishap on the road – and that kind of stress can make you forget important details your emergency car towing service might need to know. To make it easier to get help faster, note down anything you remember about the breakdown – was there water, steam or smoke coming from under the bonnet? Did your car make any untoward noises before it stalled? Any clues you can give about the potential problem will make things go smoother once help arrives.
- Make the call. Only once you’ve done all of the above is it time to call for assistance. If you don’t have a number for a roadside assistance provider or mobile mechanic, search for one nearby on your smartphone. If you do have a list of operators on hand in your contact list, remember to tell them:
- Your membership number
- Your phone number
- Where you are
- What your vehicle looks like
- What you think the problem might be
- Whether you might need car towing services or special assistance.
If you're having trouble with mobile coverage or you're too upset to focus, you can always call 000 and request the operator advise you on your best options.