What to do when you have a breakdown.
- Move the vehicle to the right side of the road out of the flow of traffic, if possible. Stopping on the left side of a divided highway is extremely dangerous but sometimes unavoidable. Do not leave the vehicle stopped in a traffic lane.
- Move the vehicle as far away from the traveled portion of the roadway as you can. At the very least you should be far enough away that you can open the door without stepping out into traffic. You also want to be visible enough so that people can see you.
- Show clear signs that there is a problem and you need assistance by raising the vehicle hood. This is an internationally recognized sign of distress.
- In addition, turn on your emergency flashers and display any signs you have that indicate you need help (such as shade screens with distress messages).
- If you remain with the vehicle, another motorist will likely report your disabled vehicle to the police, and it will be easier for the police or others to provide assistance.
- Always exit the vehicle by the passenger side, unless you are on the left side of a divided highway.
- Do not allow passengers to remain in the vehicle.
- Stay off of the road and away from the vehicle and do not stand in front of or to the rear of the vehicle.
- Do not attempt to make repairs on a vehicle while it is in an area exposed to other traffic.
Be prepared for problem situations:
- Keep items in the vehicle such as flares, flashlights, blankets, and a first aid kit. Mobile phones in the vehicle also become valuable safety tools during breakdown situations. In addition, have water available in hot climates, especially for children.
- Know where items such as your spare tire, jack, and other tools are in the vehicle and how to use them. Check periodically to make sure they are in working order.
- Be familiar with the operation of your vehicle:
- Read your owner's manual. A motorist who understands how his/her vehicle operates is better able to detect and address problems with the vehicle.
- Conduct periodic and regular maintenance of the vehicle.
- If you hear or sense that something is wrong with the vehicle, have it checked.
Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and North Carolina Department of Transportation