We all like tips. Here’s what should you do when you have a flat tire, run out of gas, or have mechanical problems and your top priority is getting out of traffic while staying in the safety of your vehicle. Even if that means calling a tow truck. But once you’re off on the shoulder or median, you’re still at risk — numerous well-trained Texas Highway Patrol officers are injured each year.
- Get over to the right, as far off roadway as possible.
- A central median or left-side breakdown lane is distant 2nd choice. So at the first sign of any trouble, start merging right on multi-lane highways.
- Stay in your car. Never get out in traffic or an otherwise dangerous area, even to watch for the arrival of help.
- Call for help from roadside assistance or a tow truck. You’ll have someone knowledgeable in working safely.
- Lock your doors and keep your windows rolled up.
- If you must change tire yourself, drive as far as it takes to reach an area that’s well away from all traffic. Even if that risks destroying a tire or rim.
- Practice changing a tire at home. You’ll be in a safe location and can comfortably refer to instructions and videos as you go.
- Keep a roadside safety kit in your vehicle. That typically includes a first aid kit, flashlight, gloves and a warm blanket for winter, jumper cables for a dead battery, and safety triangles to warn other motorists. Many people also include a canned tire inflator, heavy-duty rope, and/or flares.
- Place the first safety triangle or flare about 10 feet behind your vehicle, another between 30 and 60 feet, and a third 150 feet. If you’re down to just one, place it 30 to 60 feet behind your car or truck. Make sure none are actually in a traffic lane unless your vehicle is as well.
- If you’re not absolutely sure you’re off the roadway use flares even in daylight as they serve as an attention-getting warning.
Many auto insurance policies cover roadside assistance and towing, so don’t be hesitant in calling for help. And here’a s tip – just because there’s not traffic right now don’t assume that there won’t be at any moment.
“Move Over or Slow Down” has been a Texas law for many years. There’s now similar laws nationwide. If you see any sort of rescue vehicle or tow truck with it’s lights flashing you’re required to move over 1 lane or slow down to 20 miles-per-hour below the posted speed limit. The law carries a $200 fine as a misdemeanor, more if there’s property damage or injury. The Texas Department of Transportation extended that to include their road workers if the work zone isn’t protected by any safety barriers.
The law has been proven to reduce accidents, but even so there were 25,713 work-zone accidents including 181 fatalities in 2016 (https://www.txdot.gov/driver/
So show some respect — share the road and stay aware. Don’t tailgate, obey flaggers, and exercise caution and common sense are tips when approaching work zones. And offer the same safety and courtesy to any stranded motorist.