As a driver, it is paramount to acknowledge that a car breakdown while on the road is something you might have to face at some point. Whether caused by a flat tire, a minor or major accident or a fuel crisis, roadside emergencies ought to be taken care of with extreme caution as it might spill out of control and become worse if not handled with care.
- Move your car to the side of the road.
While driving if you have noticed that something is wrong with your car, never stop your car in just the middle of the road. Chances are that there is a vehicle coming towards you at a high speed. If you have electrical power you should activate your hazards. Move slowly towards the roadside and park in a safe place away from the road. So that you don’t become the victim of another incident.
In case your car’s engine has stopped, be prepared that the steering and the brakes might appear hard to operate. Therefore, you will need to keep the momentum up until you reach the roadside safely.
Instead of stopping your car, roll out the driver side window and hang out a white cloth and then again securely roll the window in. This will give an indication to the driver behind you that your vehicle is in trouble so they should proceed around you.
- Make sure you are visible to the people passing by
So, the next step is to wear that a fluorescent high-visibility vest or jacket so that you are easily caught by someone’s eye. This kinda jacket can be used during days and even nights.
It also very important that your phone is charged and loaded with airtime, anything can happen while you are on the road.
- Make sure your car is visible to another motorist
Make sure that your hazard lights are on so that the drivers coming up will be alerted to the presence of your car. During the night, make sure that your lights parking lights are on. It is a requirement by law to display warning triangles when your vehicle has broken down. It should be placed at least 50 meters in front and at the back.
- Evacuate the Car
Most of us rarely travel alone, if you are going with family, it is must to evacuate the vehicle. To avoid being hit by any vehicle, make sure to use the left door to vacate the car.
- Note your vehicle’s location
Make sure you remember your last exit i.e. restaurants, shopping mall, business or any petrol /service station you saw on the way. This will be helpful in finding your current location for roadside rescue.
- Call AA Roadside Assistance.
It’s not recommended that you start repairing your vehicle on the road side even though you know what the problem is. Being on the roadside shoulder puts you at danger from another oncoming motorist, especially on the highway.
The best alternative will be calling AA of Kenya or your car insurance agent for roadside assistance or rescue. You can also call any of your family members, friends or relatives nearby for help. Instead of putting your life in danger.
Never wander while talking on the phone along the hard shoulder. Don’t sit in the car even if it is raining or extreme temp (cold or hot) outside. By doing so, you are tempting to inviting a sudden car crash or other accident due to any vehicle problem. Wait outside until the help arrives.
- Stay safe
The safety of your passengers is your responsibility.
In case you its not safe to be out of your vehicle
- Keep the car windows and doors locked.
- Never leave the engine running for extended periods as this could put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- If you are threatened by a stranger while waiting in your car, call the emergency helpline. Honk the horn repeatedly and flash the lights to attract the attention of other motorists.
- Preparedness is key
Before embarking on a journey, whether long or short, do a quick check on the vehicle to safeguard you from preventable incidents.
Know your “FLOWER”
1. Fuel – Ensure you have enough gas plus reserve before you start a journey
2. Lights – Check that your beam, fog and side lights and indicators are working
3. Oil – Ensure that your oil levels are okay
4. Water – Fill up the wash reservoir, and check the level on your radiator coolant.
5. Electrics – Check battery, wipers, horn, fan
6. Rubber – Check that your wheels have enough pressure. The number one cause of tyre bust is under-inflated tyres that blow-out due to excessive heat build-up at high speeds
A car breakdown is a tragedy that befalls even the best of drivers. A stalled car is a risk for other motorist and it is the duty of every driver to keep other road users safe should he find himself in such a situation.