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A Guide to What to Do When Your Car Breaks Down on a Highway


Being stuck on the side of a highway because your car has broken down can be a frightening experience. The sound of traffic whizzing by, accompanied by the potential danger that comes with it, only heightens anxiety levels.

Fortunately, there are certain steps you can take to stay calm and safe during this stressful situation–and it starts with savvy preparation before you hit the road. Continue reading for an easy-to-follow guide about what to do when your car breakdowns on a highway, so that when (not if) it inevitably happens someday, you know exactly how to handle the situation.

What Items Should You Always Carry in Your Vehicle?

It’s important to make sure you have all your essential items with you in the vehicle. We have compiled a checklist of all the items you should always carry in your car before heading out on the road:

  • It is always smart to bring an emergency roadside kit. This kit should include items such as a spare tire, jack, tire iron, jumper cables, flashlight, safety vest, hazard triangles or flares, basic tools (e.g., screwdrivers and pliers), a first aid kit, and duct tape. These items are all essential for any kind of emergency that may arise while you’re on the road.
  • Be sure to take plenty of water and snacks with you on your journey. It is important to stay hydrated and well-fed while traveling to maintain clear focus and keep energy levels up during long drives. Pack some healthy snacks, such as granola bars or trail mix, to give you quick energy boosts when needed.
  • Bring along some entertainment options for passengers in the car, such as books or magazines, that can help pass time during long journeys. You may also want to consider bringing along a device like an iPad or iPod loaded with downloaded movies so passengers can watch something together if desired.
  • Make sure your vehicle has been properly maintained before hitting the road. This includes checking the oil levels regularly and making sure the tires are properly inflated according to the manufacturer’s specifications. If possible, have a professional check over your vehicle for any maintenance needs before embarking on your journey. This will help prevent any issues from arising while on the road, which could cause unnecessary delays or worse yet an accident.
  • Remember to bring along phone chargers just in case they are needed. This way you can always keep connected no matter where you decide to go. You should also pack blankets and pillows. They will provide extra comfort for those who might need it during long drives.

A Step-by-Step Guide to What to Do if Your Car Breaks Down on the Road

When you’re driving on the road, there’s always a chance of an emergency arising. It’s important to have a plan in place that can help you stay safe and handle any potential issues. This step-by-step guide will help you know exactly how to handle an emergency on the road no matter what kind of problem you encounter:

  • Stay calm. Panic is not only counterproductive but can also make any situation worse than it needs to be. Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that panicking isn't going to help anything and will only worsen the situation.
  • Figure out what type of emergency it is and assess the situation before taking any action. If something has happened to your vehicle, such as a flat tire or mechanical issue, assess whether you can safely fix it on your own or if you need outside assistance from a tow truck or roadside service. If another car has been involved in an incident, check for injuries, and then call 911 for help if needed.
  • Move your vehicle off the roadway if possible so that it does not create an obstacle for other drivers on the road. Make sure to put your flashers on so that other drivers are aware of your disabled vehicle in advance. If moving your car is not possible due to safety reasons, then make sure everyone stays away from the roadway until help arrives.
  • Create some sort of signal for help so that emergency services can find you. This includes using flares or hanging something brightly colored from the antenna or side mirror of your car.
  • Once help arrives, take note of their advice and do exactly what they say until the emergency is resolved safely. Staying calm during this time is essential as well, so don’t hesitate to ask questions if anything feels unclear or doesn’t seem right when dealing with first responders or tow truck drivers assisting with your vehicle issue.

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure everything goes smoothly no matter what type of emergency arises while you're out on the road.

Involved in a car accident while your car was broken down on the side of the road? Call Pierce, Sloan, Kennedy & Early LLC at (843) 968-0886 or get in touch with us online for help. You can discuss your situation with our experienced car accident attorneys in Charleston for free.

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