Roadside repair safety is one of the many dangerous things that a driver may encounter, yet most of us don't prepare for them.
Every year, more than thousands of people are killed or injured while trying to repair something too close to traffic. If you find yourself in this situation, following these suggestions can help you make your repairs as safely as possible.
Number #1: Stay calm
Engines overheat; fluids drain out and cause problems; tires blow out — all these things happen somewhere every day, and sooner or later it's probably going to be your turn.
In a perfect world, drivers would never have to concern themselves with mechanical malfunctions.
Unfortunately, automobiles are not foolproof and emergencies do occur. In every situation, the basic advice is always the same:
DO NOT PANIC.
You need to get somewhere and you`re having car problems. Already you`re in a frustrating situations, and panic and stress will only make that situation worse.
The basics of What To Do
Much of roadside repair safety comes from acting early in the situation, while you have more options. As soon as you realize you must pull over, signal and begin moving to the right, one lane at a time. Don't wait until the last minute, or your car may stop before you can make it to the side of the road.
Shoulders are not the safest place to do any kind of repair work. If possible, pull into the parking lot or onto the grass. If you must use the shoulder, pull over to the right as far as possible.
Once you`re stopped, put your hazard lights on and open your hood, even if you`re not going to attempt repairs yourself. This will make you safer by attracting attention and give others an idea of why you`re on the side of the road. Who knows? One of them might stop and help.
Check for traffic before you open the door and get out. If possible, slide over and get out on the passenger side.
Visibility is key in roadside repair safety
Much of roadside repair safety involves making yourself and your vehicle visible to other drivers.
- Avoid pulling over on the downhill side of a hill or just after a curve in the road. You want the cars coming up behind you to be able to see you well before they're near you.
- If it's night, try to stop under a streetlight. This will make your repair work easier and make you more likely to be seen by other drivers.
- Mark the rear of your car with road flares or a reflective triangle, expecially if you're stopped on the downhill side of a rise. Flares are effective at night, but the triangular signs don't burn out. Use both if you can.
Prepare in Advance
Keep a good roadside repair kit in your car. Hopefully you'll never need it, but if you ever do, you'll be so glad that it's there.
Try to anticipate and prepare for likely situations. If your car has been overheating lately, carry extra coolant or water just in case. If it's been using oil, carry extra oil. And check on your spare tire to make sure it's ready when you need it.
Of course, the safest thing to do is to maintain your vehicle. If it's in need of any kind of repair, have it done. But if your car is using a lot of oil and you're waiting 'til your next paycheck to take it to the shop, at least have extra oil on hand to avoid making the problem worse before you can get it fixed.
One of the most common roadside repairs is changing a flat tire, and of course it always happens in the worst possible conditions: cold, rainy nights, for example, or in the middle of an August afternoon in Texas. These are not the best times to be figuring out where everything is and how everything works. If you're a very conscientious driver (or a parent who wants their driving offspring to be safe), practice changing the tire under good conditions in some safe place like a parking lot. Practicing the skills before you (or your teen driver) need them will help when it really matters.
We all hope that we never have to worry about roadside repair. But with a bit of preparation and some thought toward roadside repair safety, we can avoid becoming one of the many people injured or killed every year.
Stay safe out there.
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