Roadside Emergency Tips

Roadside Emergency Tips

Roadside Emergency Tips

New Year’s Eve, 1999, I was driving by myself from Cannon Beach, OR to Puyallup, WA to attend a New Year’s Eve Party at a friend’s house. Normally, before I go on road trips I have my car checked to make sure everything is up and running. This time, however, I made a last minute decision and left without doing this. I ended up with a flat tire, in the dark and in the rain at a rest stop changing my tire. It was a miserable end to the year, but it taught me to always have my car checked before a road trip.


Most roadside emergencies can be avoided by regular maintenance. Here are a few of the top reasons for roadside emergencies (from an LA Times Article by AAA).

  • Not rotating, aligning or inflating tires
  • Ignoring brake noises or warnings
  • Ignoring fluid leaks
  • Ignoring dashboard warning signs or gauges
  • Worn battery or bad battery connection
  • Worn or cracked belts or hoses, loose hose or belt connection
  • Not checking or changing fluids

It’s important to follow all the maintenance and safety precautions prior to any road trip. Unfortunately, some emergencies are caused by the unforeseeable such as roadside debris, punctured tires, etc., and cannot be predicted. In either case, it’s best to have to have a plan in case an emergency occurs.

roadside emergency tips

Here are a few roadside emergency tips to follow from the National Safety Council:

  • If trouble occurs, carefully work your vehicle toward the emergency lane or the side of the road. If you are on an interstate, try to reach an exit. Signal your intentions to drivers behind you.
  • Once off the road, make your car visible. Put reflectorized triangles behind your vehicle to alert other drivers; use your emergency flashers. If it is dark, turn on the interior dome light.
  • When you have a flat tire (and are able) be certain that you can change it safely without being close to traffic.
  • When the car is beyond repair, it is best to get professional help. Do not try to flag down other vehicles. Raise your hood and tie something white to the radio antenna or hang it out a window so police officers or tow truck operators will know help is needed. Don’t stand behind or next to your vehicle. If the car is in the roadway, stand away from the vehicle and wait for help to arrive.
  • If your car is safely out of traffic, wait inside the vehicle with the doors locked. Use your cell phone to call for help. If someone stops and offers to help, open the window slightly and ask them to call the police.

No one plans for an emergency, but if you prepare your car and are prepared with a plan, chances are you’ll be fine if the unexpected happens.

I haven’t had a roadside emergency since that cold December night, but if it happens again, I’ll be ready.

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