How to stay safe during a roadside breakdown

There are a number of risks associated with roadside breakdowns. Here are two tips for staying safe until the tow truck arrives.

Make sure that other road users can see your vehicle

If your car breaks down on the roadside, you may need to wait at least 20 minutes or so (if not longer) for your towing service to arrive. During that time, there is a danger that your car might be hit by an approaching vehicle. The chances of this happening will be significantly higher if your breakdown occurs at night or during a period of heavy mist when visibility is very poor.

As such, the first thing you should do after pulling over is make sure that other road users can see your car from at least a few metres away. The most effective way to do this is to switch on your indicator lights; the blinking effect of these lights should be enough to catch the attention of anyone driving towards your vehicle.

However, if your breakdown is the result of your car battery dying, turning on your indicators might not be an option. In this situation, you will need to be a bit more creative when it comes to increasing your vehicle's visibility. If you have any reflective garments (such as a cycling vest or an armband) in the boot of your car, or if you happen to be wearing a brightly-coloured scarf or hat, you could tie one of these items to the antennae.

If you do not have any such eye-catching garments, you might want to open either the boot or the bonnet of your vehicle, to make the car stand out.

Be cautious if a stranger approaches your vehicle

As a general rule of thumb, it is not a good idea to accept assistance from a stranger if you break down on the roadside. Instead, you should simply wait next to, or inside your vehicle for the tow truck to arrive.

Whilst in most cases, those who offer to help people with broken-down vehicles have good intentions, there is a small chance that a person who approaches you during a roadside breakdown might be hostile or aggressive. Given how vulnerable you are in this situation, it is generally best to be cautious and politely refuse their help.

If the person who has offered to assist you becomes threatening at any point during your conversation, you should get into your vehicle (if you are not already inside it) and keep the windows rolled up and the doors locked until the towing service arrives.