What to Do When Your Car Breaks Down on a Road With No Shoulder

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Even if you own a brand-new car, no car is perfect, and you should know what to do in the unfortunate situation of a breakdown. Tires blow out, engines overheat and sometimes, even more serious things can give way. Typically you pull to the side of the road, but how can you avoid danger in situations where there’s no shoulder on the road?

For starters, don’t panic. Breakdowns on these types of roads have happened before, and you’re going to make it out of the situation just fine. Authorities tend to monitor these roads closely because they don’t offer space for broken cars to occupy. Here are some additional pointers if you find yourself in this situation.

Turn on Your Emergency Flashers

As soon as you know you’re going to need to pull over, turn on your emergency lights. This will notify other drivers that you are having trouble and to give you space. They will also pay closer attention in case you or someone else in the car requires medical assistance.

Leave the hazard lights on until help arrives. If you have an emergency triangle, set it out so others will notice your car. You can also raise the hood of your vehicle and tie something white to your antenna as an additional means of notifying police and tow operators that you’re in trouble.

Look for a Pullout or Rest Area

In some cases, you’ll have the chance to nurse the car in. If you’ve got a head of speed up, a pullout or rest area makes a much better alternative to stopping in traffic. If you can find one, you’ve got a much better place to work and could potentially fix whatever is wrong with the car on your own. That will save you time and money.

If you cannot find a good place to exit the flow of traffic, look for a call box to stop near.

If you’ve had the bad fortune of getting stranded in a tunnel, the best advice is basically the same. Turn on your flashers and remain in the car until an emergency vehicle notices you. Do not exit your car unless, for some reason, there is a tunnel evacuation.

Contact Help

If you are not able to find a good place to turn off, don’t try to repair your car in the middle of an active motorway. Contact help using your cell phone or in-car service. If you have neither, use caution exiting your vehicle and walk up the road, staying as far to the side as possible, to the nearest call box.

Do not try to flag down other vehicles. Doing this on a high-speed road with no shoulder could result in a larger accident.

If you have been able to assess the issue with the car — for example, if you are having head gasket issues — it may be necessary to call a tow company or AAA for assistance to remove the car from the road. Something less major — for example, a punctured tire — they may be able to repair at a rest stop.

Exit Safely

Merging back into traffic on these types of roads can be risky. Make sure to wait for a safe gap, turn off your emergency lights and then quickly get up to speed.

Breakdowns are nerve-wracking at times, but thanks to technology and help from emergency services, you should always have a safe way out if your car malfunctions. Just remember to keep your wits about you and think about safety first.

From Scott Huntington, a guest NMA blogger who is an automotive writer from central Pennsylvania. Check out his work at Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter@SMHuntington

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