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The Side of the Road is a Last Resort

The Side of the Road

If your vehicle fails or a tire goes flat, what are your safe options? Pull over? Drive on? Read on to learn the safe choices when you're faced with roadside emergencies.

If the Emergency is a Flat Tire

  • Turn on your emergency flashers, pull as far as possible to a safe side of the roadway (if there's a shoulder, use it), and keep driving-slowly-until you find an exit or a safe stopping place. It is common to be able to drive about 90 meters or more (about 100 yards) on a flat tire without causing damage.

For Non-Emergency Stops (fatigue, changing drivers, making a phone call)

  • Do not stop on the side of the road. Besides being unsafe, in many places it is illegal to stop on the shoulder for non-emergencies. Instead, find a well-lighted parking lot with many people around, or another place where you can park securely.

If You Have No Choice But to Stop (stalled vehicle, etc.)

  • Turn on your emergency flashers.
  • Pull off the road as far as possible.
  • If there is a shoulder, pull to its farthest side from the road.
  • Try to avoid stopping on a curve or the down side of a hill.
  • Call for roadside assistance or call the police.

Stay in Your Vehicle

  • Unless you have a compelling reason to get out of your vehicle, stay in it. Sit in the passenger's seat with your seat belt fastened while you wait for help.
  • If you must get out of the vehicle, exit on the passenger's side and use extreme caution if you need to walk near the roadway.

Your Personal Safety

  • Do not get out and raise the hood of the vehicle. This is a clear sign to criminals that your vehicle is completely disabled.
  • If someone stops to help, roll your window down just enough to speak to the person but not enough that someone can get a hand through the opening.
  • If you have no phone, you can ask your "helper" to call the police or roadside assistance for you, unless you feel suspicious of the person. In that case, tell your helper that you've placed a call and police are now on the way.