21 August 2020
While we are aware that choosing a location to pull your vehicle over is not always an option, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself and others while at the same time, making the whole towing experience easier if needed.
It can be extremely difficult in times of crisis however the most important thing you can do when you need to pull over is to remain calm. Distracted and over anxious drivers are not paying due care to their own space, their own driving and other cars and conditions around them.
While it may annoy many drivers behind, slow down first, this will signal that something is wrong and should reduce the speed of traffic behind you. Remember of course to use your indicator’s and even your hazard lights. It is a good idea to always be aware of the location for the hazard light switch, as most people will remember unconsciously where the indication arm is located, it is preferable to be able to signal yourself as a hazard vehicle in short notice, and unconsciously easy as using the blinker. Never feel pressure by those behind you, even if they start beeping or urging you to increase speed.
Further, if it is dark or at night time, it is recommended to turn on every light that won’t create a nuisance or hazard to another vehicle. Preferably, these will be left on when you are on the side of the road as long as a drained battery isn’t likely to be an issue.
Unless you need to stop immediately, it is a good idea to maintain a slow space until you reach a point that it is safe to pull over. The safest possible point to stop may vary depending on many circumstances and outlying issues. For example, a busy highway with on a thin median strip may be all you have. IF you know the road and understand that there will be no better place further ahead, you may be required to stop on the highway. IF this is the case, pull over as far as possible to the left hand side.
If you do not know the area and do not need to pull over in that instance, continue at a slow pace until you find a spot that allows you to exit the road safely. Not creating a traffic hazard, and putting others in danger thus increasing the risk is the most important aspect here.
While pulling off, it is better to be conducted in an area that allows a smooth transition, as a sudden moving may cause alarm or concern to vehicles behind you.
IF you feel that there is plenty of time and it is not a risk to pull over (ie no other cars around), then consider a spot that may provide enough space for the car to clearly out of the road. This doesn’t just include the main access route but should also consider enough space for cars veering of the road or turning into the same spot.
Preferably, you may also want a spot that provides enough room for a towing service or tow truck to able to align itself so that it has access to the car. Note that this is normally preferable in front of the vehicle however most vehicles, even with engine problems, can then be pulled or dragged into a better position, however this may also require space for the tow truck to manipulate its location thus requiring space to manoeuvre.
Obviously all of the above regarding location is dependant on where you are at and the problem you may have with the vehicle however if you can follow the above general guideline you may be able to prevent and mitigate some of the associated dangerous while being on the side of the road.
If you find that you are on the very edge of the roadside, be cautious with opening the door to get out. While this is mostly to protect yourself, many drivers do not expect people to get out of cars on busy roadways and an opening door may cause alarm which may further lead to them veering or changing lanes quickly and unexpectedly and creating traffic issues or worse, a crash. If in doubt, get out form the passenger side.
Once you safely out of the vehicle, you may wish to place reflective warning symbols around and leading up to your vehicle. What are these? These are the reflective triangular symbols you see around broken-down vehicles, especially trucks which are required to have them for Workplace Health and Safety Reasons. Don’t own them? Most people don’t, however they are worth investing in. They are one of those things that you may never need, but when you do, you’ll be glad to have them. If not, you’ll be wishing you had them.
As above, if possible and there is no risk to others or of battery loss, turn every light you have available in your car on. This will ensure that it easily seen from many angles and includes even your interior door and celling lights if you have them.
If you believe that there is an issue with your vehicle and you do not have any knowledge to assess or fix what is wrong then you should immediately call road side assistance or a tow truck. The longer the vehicle is there, the increased danger there is too yourself and other traffic.
Pulling over on a closed highway
Pulling over on main roads and highways that have busy traffic is always a cause for alarm and concern. There are even some roads that prevent it under law (however there are exemptions for those with vehicle faults and problems so do not worry if this happens to yourself).
The main issue is that the vehicle can impede traffic and create a hazard. If I is a busy area with on and off ramps you may be able to find one should the car not be required to pull over immediately.
Why no one would choose to pull over on a busy highway on purpose, please consider the above advice and be safe.