The meeting lasted longer than expected. The sun is starting to set. Soon it will be dark. You are driving on a deserted stretch of highway when the engine light comes on. You pull off onto the shoulder of the road right before the engine dies. Now what? Here are six things to do if your car breaks down in a remote area.
- The first thing you will want to do if you are experiencing car trouble is to find a safe place to pull over. A well-lit parking lot is an optimal choice. You may not have that option in a remote area. A wide spot on the shoulder of the road maybe your best option. Look to make sure there are no holes, broken glass or other hazards in the spot you choose before you pull off.
- Put on your emergency flashers. This is very important. Oncoming vehicles may not see your car in the dark on a remote road. Local drivers may not expect your car to be in the sharp turn or near the edge of the road. Your flashers will also help rescuers to find you.
- Call for help. There are several options in these situations. You can call your insurance provider. Try to remember your insurance quote and coverage. Did it include emergency roadside help? Many policies cover emergency towing services. Your insurance provider can contact a towing company for you. Call a trusted family member or a friend to come and get you. They can also call for a tow truck to assist you. If your phone has no service, you can still call 911. It may take a while, but they can find you based on the towers your call hits.
- Stay with your vehicle if it is safe to do so. Evacuate the car if you are in running water, mudslides or dangerous situations. Otherwise, remain in your car with the doors locked. It is easier for tow truck drivers to locate you if you stay with the vehicle. If you must leave the vehicle, put a note on the windshield informing others which way you are heading.
- Settle in and wait. Now is the time to take out your emergency car kit. Blankets, flashlights, extra water, and any snacks you have stashed away will be handy now. Try to ration your food and water consumption. Do not turn the car on to listen to the radio. That can drain the battery. You will want to be able to turn the car on for heat or air in an emergency. Do not use your phone to play games or visit social media sites. It can drain your phone’s battery. You will need to be able to receive calls from the tow companies or roadside assistance services.
- Be safe. Staying inside your vehicle with the doors locked is the safest option. Do not attempt to walk for help unless it’s absolutely necessary. Keep the temperature inside the car comfortable. You may need to run the heat or crack the windows. Do not roll down the windows or open the doors. Be mindful of your surroundings. Watch for help. Make your car more visible with a scarf tied to the antennae. Finally, know who’s coming. You will want to know the name of the company and the driver. When help arrives, look at the truck. Does it have the company logo? Can the driver show you his/her credentials? If not, do not open the door.
Once you have verified the credentials you can open your door. Get out of the car on the passenger side away from the road. Your tow truck driver may allow you to wait in the truck. Do not try to help with the car unless they ask you to. Most tow truck drivers will allow you to ride back to the mechanic shop. From there you will be able to call an Uber, a friend, or a motel depending on your situation.
Despite the best maintenance, vehicles will sometimes break down. It can happen to anyone – even you. A flat tire, an overheated radiator or an empty gas tank can leave you stranded. Make your plans and prepare your emergency kits now. Think of situations that could happen. Think of items you may need for those situations. Include those items in your kit. Water, blankets and snacks are good. Flashlights and batteries are important. Flares can also be useful. You may want to add a book or a deck of cards. These items will help you to pass the time as you wait for help to arrive. They will not drain your phone battery. When a vehicle break down occurs, you can remain calm. You have prepared for this scenario.