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Car Trouble? Safety Comes First on the Highway

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What can you do to avoid the potential for disaster when your car stalls on the highway? Your first concern must be your safety and the safety of your passengers. Getting out on the spot to change a tire or check damage from a fender bender is probably one of the worst things you can do.

The following safety measures are recommended when your car breaks down:

  • Never get out of the vehicle to make a repair or examine the damage on the spot. Get the vehicle to a safe place before getting out.
  • If you can’t drive the car, it may still be safer to stay in the car and wait for help or use a cell phone to summon help. Standing outside the vehicle in the flow of traffic, under most circumstances, is a bad idea.
  • Carry flares or triangles to mark your location once you get to the side of the road. Marking your vehicle’s location to give other drivers advance warning of your location can be critical. Remember to put on your hazard lights!
  • In the case of a blowout or a ?at tire, move the vehicle to a safer place before attempting a repair — even if it means destroying the wheel getting there. The cost of a tire, rim or wheel is relatively minor compared to a fatal injury.
  • Roadside tragedies remind us of the importance of having wide shoulders or safe places immediately available for motorists to use when they need them. When safe places are not readily available, motorists should move their vehicles to the nearest safe pull-off area.


PLAN AHEAD — Give yourself plenty of extra time. Construction zones, traffic jams, or other incidents can add delays. That extra time will help cut down on excessive speeding and tailgating.

PAY ATTENTION — Eliminate distractions ahead of time. Be sure important items — directions and maps, sunglasses — are within easy reach. Always pull over to a safe place to use your cell phone.

BRING A FRIEND — It is well recognized that when driving alone, especially when sleep deprived and at night, your chances of a crash are dramatically increased.

PRACTICE SAFETY — Everyone needs to be properly buckled. If traveling with children, educate yourself on child safety seats and restraints. Children age 12 and under should always be in the back seat.

CLEAR YOUR HEAD — Alcohol and certain drugs, both illegal and legal, severely impair your driving skills. If taking medication, be sure to read and obey the warning labels.

KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE — Maintain a following distance of at least two seconds. Add an additional second for each adverse driving condition, such as bad weather or low visibility.

WATCH FOR SIGNS OF FATIGUE — If you start feeling tired, let someone else drive. If you are driving alone, pull into a rest stop or another safe location and take a short nap or walk around for a few minutes. Stop as often as necessary. Eat light on long trips. Large, heavy meals can make you drowsy.

« Back to the June 2008 edition