With so many people driving vehicles in today’s day and age, there is a good chance that you will experience an accident or be involved in some roadside emergency, such as, a flat tire, dead battery, overheated radiator, or engine problems that will force you off the road for repairs or towing services. This is a potentially dangerous situation, which, without keeping safety in mind for yourself and others with you, could get you injured or killed.
Even though an emergency situation or accident is not completely preventable, you can prepare your vehicle and yourself ahead of time before traveling to reduce or eliminate an incident from happening. There are two things that you will need to do to arrive safely at your destination, which we will detail now:
In order for your vehicle to get you to where you need and want to go, it is important to maintain your vehicle. The alternative is that you will experience an emergency and un-necessary frustration. In a worse case scenario, your disabled vehicle could cause an accident and you or your passengers could get injured. The following list will get you started on the right track to keeping your motor vehicle well maintained.
Now, just because your vehicle is being well maintained, doesn’t mean that you are prepared and ready. Below we have listed out some things you can do to be better prepared when traveling or just out on the road:
Over the last couple of years there have been several deaths and injuries to tow truck operators in Michigan, so it would behoove us all to be aware and alert of those who are out on the roads to assist and help so that others don’t get hurt or killed.
Now that you have your vehicle and yourself prepared for traveling on the roads, let us take a look at the two most common types of roadside breakdowns that you could experience. Please be aware that we are not trying to cover every type of situation that could happen. What we will cover is the most common ones amongst the two roadside emergency types. Let us begin…
Auto accidents are the number one roadside emergency in which motorists will find themselves. This is where you or another vehicle have collided or “crashed” into one another while driving on the ROADWAY. A number of circumstances can cause this type of incident and the damage could range from minimal to disastrous. Unfortunately, this type of breakdown cannot be predicted, so the best advice we can give you, is to read through the Prepare Yourself list, drive responsibly and if you do end up in or causing an accident, stay calm and don’t panic.
The reasons that motorists need help along the roadway are as numerous as the parts on your vehicle (ok, maybe not that many). But the nine specific car problems listed below make up the bulk of the roadside assistance calls.
Now that you have become more knowledgeable in the two major roadside emergencies, it is time to cover what to do if you end up in an accident or on the side of the road needing help. Since it is near impossible to predict or prepare for all circumstances, we will be covering some suggestions and general guidelines for each case.
Step 1: Check for Injuries
Check to see if anyone involved in the accident has been injured or seriously hurt. If so, call 9-1-1 right away! Under no circumstances move any individual unless in the case of fire or instructed to do so by roadside emergency personnel.
Step 2: Your Location
Write down the street address, nearest mile marker, billboard or other landmarks as your insurance and emergency providers will need this information.
Step 3: Accident Scene
Draw out a sketch of the accident scene and detail skid marks, damage to vehicles, weather conditions and any other details pertinent to the situation. It may help to take photos of the damage on the vehicles for reference.
Step 4: Witnesses
If you noticed anyone witness the accident go speak with them and get their name, address, phone and account of the accident.
Step 5: Fault
It is important not to admit to being the one at fault for the accident. Let the evidence, witnesses and other information determine the final outcome of who caused the accident.
Step 6: Police Report
Before you leave the scene of the accident, ask the police officer for a copy of the police report or find out how to obtain a copy of it.
Step 7: Insurance
You will need to contact your insurance company and report the accident. This is required under your contract with the insurance company, even if you choose not to file a claim.
Step 8: Towing Service
In some locations, and under certain situations, the police will allow you to request your preferred towing company. Otherwise, the police will contact their rotation or contracted towing service.
Step 9: File Claim
When you are safely back home, calmed down, contact your insurance provider and file a claim.
Step 1: Pull Over
The first thing to do when encountering an roadside emergency situation on the road is to pull as far off to the right side of the road as you can away from oncoming traffic. Get your vehicle to as level ground as possible. If you cannot pull off the road to the shoulder due to the vehicle becoming inoperable, then put your emergency flashers on to help on-coming traffic be alerted to your situation. Don’t try to push your vehicle to the side of the road if you end up getting stuck in a further lane away from the shoulder. It would be best to stay in your vehicle until emergency assistance arrives. If you are concerned for your safety, then get out of the vehicle and move to a safer location.
Step 2: Your Location
While driving be aware of your surroundings. Knowing landmarks, mile markers, the major intersection, rest area or cross street will come in handy when you have to communicate with those who may be assisting you.
Step 3: Assess
When you are traveling, keep your eyes and ears open for signs of possible trouble. Look for smoke or steam coming from the hood area, unusual noises, or steering problems. If you discern that something is wrong, don’t panic. Put your blinker on, gradually slow your vehicle and pull over to the shoulder.
Step 4: Get Visible
Since you are having an emergency situation and vehicles are clipping by you at a high rate of speed, it is important to make yourself visible to them. The best thing you can do is:
– Turn your emergency flashers on and stay inside your vehicle and contact professional help.
Step 5: Notify Others
Once you and/or your passengers are in a safe location, notify others of your breakdown. If you have a mobile phone on you, contact your auto club provider and give them the information needed to have assistance come out to you. Let them know if you need other providers, such as, a towing service or medical help.
Being that we are in a technology world, and realizing that most people have some kind of “smart” phone or mobile device, we recommend the following:
Use your “smart” phone or mobile device and Google the towing company in the area that you are broken down in and find one that has the best reviews. Or, contact your preferred towing service and ask them who they recommend. Most decent towing companies network together and will help each other out.
Step 6: Stay In Vehicle
Under most circumstances, as long as you are safely on the side of the road, it is best to remain in your vehicle until a law enforcement officer or service provider arrives. While staying in your vehicle, keep your windows mostly closed and your doors locked. If a stranger attempts to help you, it is best to not open your doors or windows but ask them to call for roadside emergency service for you if you have not already. If you choose to exit your motor vehicle, do it safely and use the doors that are facing away from the road.
Step 7: Emergency Service
Now that emergency assistance or help is on the way, here is what you can expect from them when they get there:
Light Duty Road Service: This would include, in most areas, a jump start, tire change with a good spare, lock out, and winch outs. Anything outside of these require a tow to a safe secure location quickly. In most cases a tire change on a busy freeway will require a tow to a safer location to perform the service where both you and the service provider will not be at risk from distracted drivers.
Towing Company: If your vehicle has more severe problems which the basic service provider can’t help with, a tow truck driver will come out and have your vehicle towed to wherever you want it. In a lot of cases, if repairs are needed, the towing service can provide repair to get you back on the road safely.
Your wait time for help may range between a few minutes to or as long a several hours. The provider should be able to tell you what their estimated arrival time will be. If you feel that you are in an unsafe area, make sure the dispatcher is aware of your concern.
Here is the information you should have available when the provider for roadside emergency arrives:
It is important for you to remain calm and collected when your roadside emergency service provider arrives. They are well trained for most situations that occur. Some things you can do to be sure the provider is the one you called:
Step 8: Your Responsibility
Keep in mind that you are responsible for knowing what your auto club membership, insurance or other roadside assistance program provide and covers.
Some things you may want to find out about your policy/membership:
Up to this point we’ve discussed preparation, preservation and the two main type of emergencies and the steps you should take if/when you may be involved in one of them. In this section of the article, we would like to give you a list of items that need to be in your vehicle along with the basic & optional items in your emergency kit.
Please check out this excellent article by TheWireCutter.com in which they spent more then sixty hours researching roadside emergency products. They also give recommendations for their best product picks.
|Always Have Items||Winter Items|
Never travel in the winter without proper clothing especially during inclement weather. Short pants and a t-shirt in sub zero weather and a dead car are not pleasant situations to find yourself in with no heat. Cars breakdown even on short trips to the store.
|Basic Roadside Emergency Kit||Optional Extra Items|
We’ve tried to make this information on how to handle accidents and breakdowns as complete as possible so that you are prepared for an emergency if and when it happens. Better to be prepared than not. We wanted to include the list of emergency kit items so you could have a central place to go to put yours together.
We decided to put together a roadside emergency checklist that you can use to refer to while building your emergency kit for your vehicle. Just check off the items you’ve already purchased on your list and placed in your kit.
You can download this checklist by sharing this article on one of the social platforms listed below. Once you share it, the link to download it will appear. Just right-click, select “Save Link as…” or “Save link…” and save it to your desktop.
If you received some valuable information from this article on roadside emergency safety & assistance, or would like to comment or give us feedback, please post them in the comments section below. We will be monitoring this section to make it as relevant as possible and more helpful to our readers.
Ron became the company president of E & L Service, Inc. in 1991 at the request of his grand-parents. With an automotive and heavy equipment background, Ron's focus is to bring the highest quality repair & towing services to Lapeer residents.