Those stressful moments where you’re stranded on the side of the road with your car showing no signs of life seem to happen at the most unexpected of times. It’s in those moments, where you would do anything and face any cost to get to your destination safely, that taking the right course of action is most important. Following these steps in a roadside emergency situation should get you out of harm’s way:
1. Pull off to the side of the road and remain inside your vehicle.
It is important to position your vehicle out of the way of other vehicles to avoid collisions. It is far safer to remain inside the vehicle, but if you must get out, exit the vehicle on the passenger-side to evade other cars.
2. Turn your hazard signals on to notify other cars around you.
Whether on not you could move your vehicle away from incoming traffic, it is crucial to your safety that you indicate to passing cars that your vehicle has broken down.
3. Call your insurance company and notify them of the incident.
Your insurance company will likely require details of the incident as well as your current location. If your precise location is unknown, mobile GPS can be used to pinpoint your position (Google Maps, sharing your ‘live location’ on WhatsApp etc). Some insurance companies may send their own roadside assistance but, if not, confirm which companies/ services are valid for reimbursement. Insurers may cover the cost of towing (up to a certain limit) but this is often dependent on the service and distance to tow.
4. If not organised by the insurance company, contact a tow-truck service.
Select the most appropriate service for your situation based on your budget, location, their speed of service and recommendations (insurance companies may make their own suggestions). But be aware of tow truck scams which involve the operator offering to contact the insurance company on your behalf – this, of course, can lead to costs not covered by the insurer.
5. Get estimates from various towing companies for their services and agree on a price.
It is important to confirm the price of the towing (either a flat fee or a rate per mile) before the vehicle is removed to forgo any additional, surprise charges.
6. Determine where the tow truck should transport your vehicle to.
Depending on the situation, it may be cheaper to move the vehicle to a nearby service station and organise further transport home.
7. When safe to do so, record any damage to the vehicle.
Once it is safe to exit the vehicle and the tow company has arrived, ensure that you record any external damage to avoid liability for any further damage that may occur during transit.
8. Confirm how your vehicle will be towed and remove all valuables.
All personal belongings should be removed from the vehicle (in case of theft) and the towing method (a flatbed or chain) should be agreed upon to minimise risk to the vehicle in transit.
9. Once the vehicle has safely been transported, keep the receipt for insurance purposes.
Equipped with these steps and any further advice from your insurance company, you should be able to safely tackle being stuck on the side of the road.