Whether you’re a new driver or an experienced one, having your car break down can be a frightening and overwhelming experience. This is why it’s important to think about the possibility in advance and plan accordingly. That way, if the worst does happen and you have an accident or emergency, you’ll be prepared, and the incident should hopefully be less stressful for you. To help you out, here’s a quick overview of how you can make sure you’re as prepared as possible for a breakdown and what to do if and when the situation occurs.
There are steps you can take before you’ve even got into your car that will help you in the event that your vehicle breaks down. Perhaps the most obvious of these is to arrange breakdown cover. This is a type of insurance that gives you roadside assistance if your vehicle breaks down. This article from money.co.uk goes into more detail about the different varieties of breakdown cover available, which should help you to figure out the right type for your needs.
As a very quick overview, you can get personal cover, which covers you when traveling in any vehicle as either a driver or a passenger, or vehicle cover, which only covers one specific vehicle. Some of the more comprehensive options will also cover the cost of continuing your journey after you break down. Always check the fine print carefully so that you know exactly what is and isn’t covered before you sign anything.
There is good news. Even if you don’t have breakdown cover, you can still get help – it will just cost you more. The financial burden of repairing your car after an accident or breakdown can be high, especially if you have to replace it completely. If you don’t have breakdown cover but need a quick solution, other options such as short term loans can be useful at getting you back on your feet quickly. Just be sure to always use an authorized and regulated lender. Check cashlady.com for more info.
Another action that you can take to ensure that you’re prepared in case of a breakdown is to make sure that you have the necessary equipment in the car to help you deal with roadside emergencies. For example, this could include a reflective jacket, a torch, blankets, a road map, a red warning triangle, details of your breakdown cover and who to call, a copy of the manual for your car, a spare tire, loose change, a bottle of water and snacks, an empty fuel can, a tire jack, jump leads, a tool kit, a first aid kit, and so on. Some of these might seem excessive, but if you drive a lot or are going on a long journey, then it’s important to be prepared for any eventuality.
Finally, make sure you take your car in for regular maintenance so that it’s always in roadworthy condition. That will reduce the chances of you breaking down in the first place.
Step by step guide
Preparation can help, but if something goes wrong when you’re driving and your car breaks down, here’s a quick step by step guide to help you know what to do and how to stay safe.
The first thing to remember, as difficult as it may be, is not to panic. It’s a natural reaction to feel scared or stressed when your vehicle breaks down, but take some deep breaths and try to remain calm. This will help you to approach the situation in a more rational manner and judge the situation clearly.
Pull over in a safe place if you can
Depending on what has gone wrong with your vehicle, if you are able to, try and pull over in a safe place by the side of the road. For example, on a motorway, this could be the hard shoulder if you are unable to get off at the next exit. Alternatively, if there’s a lay-by, emergency refuge area, gas station, or rest stop nearby, then that can be a good choice. Remember to be careful of other road users, cyclists, and pedestrians, plus watch out for ditches, soft verges, trees, and other potential obstructions. If you cannot pull over, stay in the car with your seatbelt on and call the emergency services immediately.
Turn on your hazard lights
You should always switch on your hazard lights when you have a breakdown in your vehicle. This will alert other road users to the fact that you are there and that you are suffering from car troubles, thus helping to keep everyone safe. If the weather is foggy or you’re driving at night, it might be sensible to put your sidelights on too.
Keep yourself safe
Safety should always be your priority in a situation where your car has broken down. It’s essential to stay off the road and out of the way of moving traffic. If it’s safe to exit your car, then do so, using the door on the curb/verge side of the road and away from other vehicles. If you have any high visibility jackets or other reflective clothing, put them on before getting out of the car. In cases where there is a barrier at the side of the road, try and wait behind it if you can. Warning triangles are not safe to use on motorways or highways, but if you break down on a smaller road, then you can put one somewhere visible as a warning to approaching traffic.
Call a breakdown service
Once you are safe, you should call a breakdown service right away to get help. They will need to know where you are (be as accurate as possible), the cause of the breakdown if you know it, and any important information such as if one of your party is pregnant, a young child, or has a disability. Having your membership or policy details to hand can also be useful. Then you will simply need to wait in a safe location, nearby your vehicle until the breakdown service arrives. Depending on the cover you pick, if they can’t fix your car on the roadside, then they may tow you to the nearest garage or to a location of your choice.