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What if Your Car Breaks Down on the Highway?
4 Crucial Steps to Follow

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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Schmidt & Clark, LLP is not currently accepting these types of cases and has posted this content for information purposes only. We encourage you to seek a qualified attorney, if you feel you might have a case.

When your vehicle breaks down on a bustling highway or interstate, it not only poses a risk to you but also to other drivers sharing the road.

With a constant flow of cars, SUVs, and semis, it's natural to feel overwhelmed. So, what steps should you take when your car breaks down on the highway?

As an experienced lawyer, I'll utilize my knowledge in this article to guide you through the essential steps to follow when your car breaks down on the highway and provide tips on how to prepare for such situations.

Quick Summary

  • If your car breaks down on the highway, stay in your vehicle, turn on hazard lights, and call for assistance immediately to ensure your safety and that of others.
  • React quickly and safely by parking on the right-hand side of the road, away from traffic, and using emergency blinkers to alert other drivers.
  • Be prepared for unexpected breakdowns by having an emergency kit in your vehicle, performing regular maintenance checks, and considering insurance and roadside assistance options.

What to Do if Your Car Breaks Down on the Highway?

A worried woman due to car break downIf your car breaks down on the highway, you must stay in your car and turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers of your situation [1].

Stay inside your vehicle and activate your hazard lights immediately to notify other drivers of your predicament.

In case of an unexpected vehicle breakdown, reach out to the police by dialing 911. Be sure to inform the dispatcher if your stranded vehicle is causing traffic.

While waiting for help, avoid standing in the middle of a busy highway or attempting to fix the car yourself, as these actions can be dangerous.

It's also worth noting that car insurance typically won't cover a mechanical breakdown unless it's related to a covered peril or an emergency.

However, mechanical breakdown insurance could cover repairs not included in your manufacturer's warranty, such as when your car dies on the highway.

1. React Quickly and Safely

A person's foot on the brake pedalWhen your car breaks on the highway, you need to react quickly. As soon as you notice any issues, take your foot off the accelerator to ensure your personal safety.

Coast and brake gently to move your vehicle off the road as smoothly and quickly as possible, pulling off to the right-hand side of the road onto a flat surface away from traffic.

Once you've pulled off the road, turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers.

Pulling Off the Road

When your car breaks down on the highway, it's crucial to steer it safely to the shoulder or another secure spot away from traffic. Find a safe, flat spot that's far away from any moving traffic.

To make sure you stay safe when your car breakdown happens, maneuver your car to the shoulder or a safe spot away from traffic.

Use emergency blinkers and find a location away from any curves behind you.

Turn On Your Hazard/Emergency Lights

Activating your hazard lights and emergency brakes is vital for alerting other drivers and securing your vehicle [2].

Locate the hazard light button, typically found on the dashboard or steering column, and press it to activate the hazard lights.

2. Stay Secure in Your Vehicle

A person staying inside the vehicle

In a car breakdown scenario, prioritizing your safety is crucial. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Exit through the passenger-side door to avoid traffic
  2. Make your vehicle visible by turning on your hazard lights
  3. Alert other drivers of your situation

Passenger Side Door Exit

Exiting your vehicle away from traffic is a vital step toward ensuring your safety. When getting out of your car, make sure to use the door on the opposite side of the road or the passenger-side door. This will help you avoid any potential hazards from passing vehicles.

Related Article: Can I Leave My Dog in the Car?

Making Your Vehicle Visible

Making your vehicle visible is a critical step in alerting other drivers to your predicament. Turning on your hazard lights is an excellent start, and if you have them, you can also use flares or reflective triangles to increase visibility.

"Use the hard shoulder on a motorway or dual carriageway if your vehicle breaks down and you cannot make it to the next exit or service area. Stop your vehicle as far to the left as you can, away from the traffic."
- Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency

3. Be Prepared for Unexpected Breakdowns

A car being checked by a mechanic

Preparation for unforeseen car breakdowns can alleviate stress and save both time and money. Preparations include:

  • Having an emergency kit in your vehicle.
  • Performing regular maintenance checks.
  • Considering insurance and roadside assistance options.

Emergency Kit Essentials

An emergency kit is a must-have for any car owner. Essential items to include are:

  • Traffic cones, flares, or other emergency signaling devices
  • A cell phone and car charger
  • A first-aid kit
  • Jumper cables
  • A flashlight and extra batteries
  • A blanket
  • Drinking water and snacks
  • Flares or reflective triangles for visibility
  • A tire pressure gauge
  • Basic tools like a wrench, screwdriver, and pliers.

Insurance and Roadside Assistance

A car tire being replaced by a man in the middle of the road

During a breakdown, insurance, and roadside assistance prove to be invaluable resources.

Roadside assistance services can help with the following:

  • Towing
  • Jump-starting a battery
  • Changing a flat tire
  • Getting you some gas if you run out

Car insurance companies offer roadside assistance services. You can also get this help from independent providers.

4. Call For Help

A man in a car calling for helpKnowing who to contact and what information to provide is essential when your car breaks down on the highway.

In an emergency, call 911 or the local emergency services [3]. Otherwise, you can call a tow truck, mechanic, or roadside assistance provided by your insurance company or another provider.

After stopping and engaging the emergency brake, take note of your location, keeping an eye out for exit signs, mile markers, and intersections.

When calling for a tow truck, please provide them with the information about your location and that your car has broken down on the highway.

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What to Do if Your Car Is About to Break Down?

If your car is about to break down, try to safely move it to the side of the road away from traffic. Turn on your hazard lights for visibility and call for roadside assistance or a tow truck immediately to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

What to Do if Your Car Breaks Down and You Have No Service?

If your car breaks down and you have no service, use any available signals or indicators on your phone for an emergency call. If that's not possible, raise your car's hood or use a cloth on your antenna to signal distress.

What to Do When You’re Stranded on the Road?

When you're stranded on the road, prioritize safety. Pull over, turn on your hazard lights, and exit the vehicle through the passenger-side door to avoid traffic. Use warning triangles or flares to make your presence known.

Contact A Car Accident Attorney Today For A Free Consultation

If you ever find yourself in a situation where your car breaks down on the highway, and you need assistance, remember that Schmidt & Clark LLP is here to support you.

Our team is dedicated to ensuring your safety and providing the guidance you need during such challenging times.

We believe in helping you understand your rights and options in this situation, and our consultations are always free. You won't incur any fees unless we successfully resolve your case.