How to Stay Safe if Your Car Breaks Down
When breakdowns occur while traveling on Georgia’s interstates, the situation can quickly become dangerous. Knowing how to stay safe if your car breaks down may mean the difference in getting out of harm's way or suffering serious injuries.
How can I safely stop on the interstate?
As soon as you are aware that your vehicle is having a problem, turn on your hazard lights. This will warn other drivers that you have an issue and will be attempting to reach the right shoulder. Leave your hazards on until you have repaired or towed your car. They make your vehicle easier to see when stopped. This is especially important at night or during bad weather.
If you have flares or traffic warning triangles in your car, you should place them behind your car as well. Another idea is to pop your hood and prop it open. This will make your car more visible and let others know you are having a car problem.
Do your best to get to the right shoulder, and as far off of the roadway as possible. Only when this is impossible should you resort to stopping on the left shoulder or in the median. Once stopped on the shoulder, put the emergency brake on. Turn your wheel away from the road. Together these actions will prevent your vehicle from rolling into driving lanes no matter what is causing your mechanical issue.
Should I get out of the car?
Whether or not it is safe to get out of your vehicle depends greatly on the area where you stopped. If you are in a precarious location, notify the Georgia State Patrol immediately. You can notify them that you need assistance by dialing *GSP or calling 911. Then, remain in your vehicle with your seatbelt on until help arrives.
The exception to this rule is if you see smoke or flames coming from under the hood. If your car is on fire, get out at the first available time and get as far as possible from both your car and the roadway.
If you feel comfortable getting out of the car, exit through the passenger side. This will keep you away from passing traffic.
Whom should I call?
You may know what is causing your car problem before you ever come to a complete stop. If you have a flat tire or similar issue, you may be able to fix it on your own if you have a properly equipped emergency kit [link to Emergency Kit page] in your vehicle.
If not, the best option is to have roadside assistance available to come make minor repairs or tow your car. Even great mechanics do not have the training to work on cars while other drivers fly by at 70 miles an hour; roadside assistance techs do. If you do not have roadside assistance, call a tow truck and notify a friend or family member of the situation.
What should I do if my car strands me in winter weather?
While you are unlikely to be stranded in the snow in Georgia, there have been times when unruly weather has trapped motorists in the Atlanta area. Do you remember the Blizzard of ’93? How about Winter Storm Leon in January 2014? It is a good idea to be prepared in case you are traveling in an area that experienced more extreme winter weather. If you find you are stranded in the snow, you can stay warm and safe by following these tips.
- Immediately turn off the car if it is still running
- Get any blankets, coats or other items you may have in your emergency kit
- Check your exhaust pipe to ensure it is clear of snow frequently
- Run the car for 10 to 15 minutes each hour, and turn on the heat