Picture this: Cruising down the motorway, hopefully not in the centre lane unless overtaking, when suddenly there’s a sound like a small explosion. This is instantly accompanied by the violent shaking of the steering wheel. The car feels out of control! What has happened need not be a disaster however and it is fairly uncommon in these high-tech days unless the rubber hoops are in poor condition, but, in this example, one of the tyres has blown out. Time to get off the road, pronto.
The vehicle’s stability control system will have kicked in, but the driver still needs to keep calm and carry on by signalling intentions, move over to the hard shoulder (if available!) as far off the main carriageways as is possible. That’s the procedure but the occupants are still not truly safe.
With traffic hurtling by at high speeds, it can present a problem if other drivers don’t see the ill-fated motor and have little time to react; this is especially true in poor visibility or if they themselves are distracted. Many people have been injured or killed while at the side of the road with a breakdown, which means prompt action must be taken to avoid becoming a roadside emergency statistic.
Here are some of the things a driver needs in the emergency kit and to know what to do when the car comes to a halt:
Like ears, we all have them. Today’s cars may also be connected direct to one or other roadside assistance service via the dashboard, but for the rest of we motorists, a fully-charged mobile phone can bring help fast. It’s even possible to set up an an emergency quick dial to contact an individual breakdown service. If all else fails, call the cops or use the nearest motorway emergency phone. This will have a number so that the emergency services can pinpoint the location.
Even in the modern world, sometimes we don’t know precisely where we are. Nearby landmarks can help, but let’s face us, much of our countryside looks the same, doesn’t it? Fortunately, mobile operators can often help identify the precise location down to a general area, such as between two of its towers, but other motorway markers can help as well. Exit signage and other descriptive information such as cameras can also be a guide. A good smartphone should have a GPS locator, which can pinpoint exactly where in the world the car is stranded.
Once, every single motorists had a reflective warning triangle in the boot but not so much these days. In some European countries they are mandatory. This makes absolute sense.
If a car breaks down at night or at a time of the day when visibility has been reduced, then there’s a need to alert other drivers. Emergency triangles should be placed several hundred yards away, ideally well before motorists come upon the vehicle. Otherwise keep as far over to the left as possible and, crucially, all passengers should evacuate the car and move away up the banking. Do not loiter on the hard shoulder; that makes for a soft target for an unwitting driver.
Can the modern motorist fix a car? These days those skills are not so prevalent, so probably not. Can the driver even change a wheel to a spare or use one of those annoying kits? Nevertheless it doesn’t hurt to keep a torch with fresh batteries on board, carry a container of coolant and some motor oil. Ensure that the spare tyre is properly inflated and a jack is in place and functional. In winter it might make sense to include a blanket, gloves, water, and food, especially on a more remote trip.
The sooner the car is ready to hit the road again the better and importantly another statistic won’t be added to the list of tragedies. That’s why our customers can buy with confidence because they know all of our cars for sale have been thoroughly AA inspected before we advertise them. At least that way it is safe to drive off with confidence.