How to handle a highway breakdown

No one plans to have their vehicle break down while on the road but unfortunately it can happen. CAA South Central Ontario has a plan just in case. Here are some general guidelines from CAA to follow if your vehicle breaks down on a highway.

Pull off the road. Pull onto the highway shoulder as quickly and safely as possible. Remember to signal, and try to remain on the level ground. If you do find you need to pull onto the left shoulder, ensure that you are as far away from moving traffic as possible.

If you cannot pull off the road, turn on your hazard lights. Do not risk injury by attempting to push your car to a safe location. If you are uncertain about your safety and think your vehicle may be struck from behind, do not stay in your vehicle. Leave your vehicle only if there is a safer area to move to, away from the highway.

Note your vehicle’s location. Look for a major exit. Note landmarks such as service stations, restaurants, shopping centres and business complexes. Do you remember the last exit name or any numbered signs near your location? This will be useful to know when calling for assistance.

Assess your vehicle’s operating problem. Did you hear any unusual noises, experience any out-of-the-ordinary car responses, or note any steam or smoke coming from under the hood?

If you must get out of your vehicle to assess the situation:

• Watch carefully for oncoming traffic, especially at night or in bad weather.

• Exit the vehicle from the side away from traffic.

• Never stand behind or directly in front of your vehicle, as you risk being struck by drivers who might not see you.

• Alert other motorists by making your vehicle visible.

• Turn on emergency flashers, especially at night or in bad weather.

• Raise your vehicle’s hood. If you have a bright handkerchief, scarf, or light jacket, tie it to the antenna or door handle, or hold it in place by closing it in a window.

Call 911– Communicate your situation.

Once you and your passengers are in a safe location, call 911. They will advise you on what to do. After calling emergency services, call a family member or friend and advise them of your situation and location.

Call for roadside assistance and tell the operator:

• If you are a CAA Member, your Membership number.

• The phone number where you can be reached.

• Your location.

• A description of your vehicle.

• The nature of your problem.

• Describe any circumstances that may require special towing or transport considerations, such as an unusual or rare vehicle, large number of passengers, infants, medical needs or whether your vehicle requires special fuel.

• Advise the road service operator that you have called 911.

It’s up to you to understand what services your roadside assistance or insurance policy will cover.

Article provided by CAA South Central Ontario (