Safety tips when waiting for tow truck

25 August 2020

In our last article we covered how to pull over safely to avoid risk to both yourself, local traffic and to any tow trucks or road side assistant vehicles.  Depending where you are both in relation to the road and in a general location, there is still many things you can do to ensure that those above principles follow through and the safety is maintained once you have finally come to a complete stop.

If you know what the issue is, or believe that it is something you cannot fix and you know that you do not need to get out of the car, then a tow truck or road side assistance vehicle should be called immediately.  This reduces the risk to yourself and also ensures that the assistance you require is notified immediately thereby reducing any waiting period.

The first thing most people want to do when they pull over in an emergency is to get out of the car and have a look at the problem.  This is fine if you have sufficient space and have pulled far enough away from the road verge not to cause a safety hazard.  If you are close to the shoulder of the road, you may want to consider getting out the passenger side, or if you are waiting for road side assistance you may wish to consider staying in your car.  This is especially important on main roads and highway where the traffic is extremely busy, or even on lesser roads but during peak hours.  IF you have others in the car with you, no more than one person should exit at any time without good reason. 

The above is doubly important if you have broken down during the night, or if during the day, visibility is affected through either rain, mist or fog.  Even some locations under bridges or in deep shadow can be of a concern.  In this instance it is recommended to stay in the car at all times and leave as many lights on as possible to signal where you are.  This will help a tow truck find you but also reduce the car as a safety hazard.  If for some reason you need to exit the vehicles, again, do so with the lights on and try to stay in the well-lit areas.  IF your batter is flat and you do not have the lights on, try to avoid wearing dark clothes.  It is because of these circumstances however that we always recommend that people have a high visual vest or similar clothing stored under the seat or in an area that can be accessed without having to get out and get into the boot of the car.  Another idea is to keep a torch handy in the glove box, however you might want to consider keeping the batteries separate in a small sandwich back outside the torch as they will quickly go flat, or leak in heat.

As in the previous article, there are other objects you can store to help people, both day and night, to indicate that you are in a hazardous spot.   These may include traffic cones or triangle reflector signals to notify oncoming traffic of your location.

Avoid flagging down other drivers or waving to passing vehicles.  Studies indicate that this only causes further issues and if you are in a dangerous spot, any vehicle wishing to pull over to help would likely be creating their own traffic risk by trying to suddenly stop as speed to help.

Stay inside or by the car, especially if you are waiting for towing or road side assistance.  If an assistance vehicle pulls up, they may need access or help to manoeuvre it, or even to unlock it so that they can pop the hood to have a look.  They may also need your direct permission to do certain activities.  Without you there in can delay any assistance or movement of the vehicle to a safe place, not to mention annoy the person who has come to help you.

Finally, one of the best pieces of advice is to listen to the operator of the assistance vehicle when they turn up.  They may have some instructions for you that can help them in their job or with the overall safety of the scenario.  Most operators have been doing the job for a number of years and know the best methods to both help you along faster to get your situation fixed and to reduce the safety hazard from the surrounding environment.


Remove whatever you may need

                While you’re waiting for the tow truck to come, try and go through your belongings and grab the essentials.  Anything that you may need when the truck is towed as it it is a good possibility that it will be going to a mechanics and potentially into a locked facility.  It is much better to have those items on you or readily available so when the assistance vehicle arrives they can be removed instantly, reducing the time the vehicle is left in a hazardous position.

Don’t get lifts from people you don’t know.

                These days Stranger Danger is very real.  While not really a towing tip, we suggest that you do not get rides from strangers.  While we know many people have a good heart, some people are opportunistic and looking to take advantage of people.

                Also be weary of people offering to fix a car for you.  If you are by yourself or stranded in an out of the way location you may be more comfortable simply smiling and saying that a tow truck or road side assistance vehicle is on the way.  This will let them know that somebody may be coming shortly.

Try also  not to leave your car by itself.  While this is explained above from a risk perspective and to not annoy operators of assistance vehicles, there are opportunistic people who will take advantage of sole vehicles left on roadsides.  Obviously there are certain areas where this is more applicable than others (we won’t name them but you may know where we are talking about).