Vehicle breakdowns can be a frustrating part of vehicle ownership, especially in cold or wet weather. But, being prepared can make a breakdown much less stressful.
Next to preventative maintenance, the best thing you can do is be prepared in the event your vehicle breaks down. Always have a working cell phone with you and have emergency assistance/roadside assistance numbers programmed into your phone. Being extra prepared can ensure you are safe and comfortable while waiting for help to arrive. We recommend keeping a emergency kit in your vehicle that includes:
At the first sign of vehicle trouble, pull onto the highway shoulder to your right as quickly and safely as possible. Remember to signal during a highway breakdown, and try to remain on level ground. Keep in mind, snow can make the road shoulder appear larger than it is.
Once safely stopped on the side of the road, engage your parking brake and turn your steering wheel in the opposite direction of the road.
If 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 vehicle to a safe location.
Immediately turn on your emergency flashers to signal a problem. If it is safe to exit the vehicle, use hazard triangles or flares to alert other motorists of a problem. Place the triangle or flares approximately 15 metres behind your car to give other motorists adequate notice. Also, raise your vehicle hood or tie a white cloth to your door handle as a signal for assistance from police or other motorists.
If your vehicle presents a danger, call 911 immediately. Note your location, using your phone or vehicle GPS, closest exits or buildings and landmarks.
If there is no danger and your vehicle is not blocking a major road, you may decide to call non emergency services such as your mechanic or your roadside assistance provider. Next, call a family member or friend and advise them of your situation and location.
Your best option is to stay in your vehicle during a highway breakdown while waiting for help to arrive. While in your vehicle, keep the doors locked and your seatbelt fastened. Don’t leave the engine running for extended periods, as it can put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. If the rear end of your vehicle is in a snow bank, do not run the engine.
Always exercise caution when accepting help from strangers. If you are suspicious, only lower your window enough to talk and let them know help is on the way, or to ask them to make a phone call for you. If you are threatened by a stranger, call 911. You can also honk the horn repeatedly and flash the lights to attract the attention of other motorists.
Only wait outside the vehicle if it is clearly unsafe to remain inside. When exiting the vehicle, always use the door on the opposite side of the roadway. Remember to never step onto the road and always be mindful of the traffic and moving cars around you.