As far as vehicle trouble goes, personal safety must remain the primary concern when your car breaks down away from home. In such a stressful and helpless time, it’s easy to embrace a stranger as a Good Samaritan. However, that isn’t always the case. One well-documented example of stranger danger is when Bill Cosby’s son, Ennis Cosby, had a flat tire on Interstate 405. After pulling his Mercedes over to change the flat, he was approached by a stranger that he assumed was approaching with an intent to help him. Instead, the stranger demanded money from Ennis, and then shot him in the head and fled.
The above tragedy should serve as a reminder that, no matter what the circumstances, personal safety must be forefront. Here are some safety tips for vehicle trouble away on the roadway:
Remember to always travel with a fully charged cell phone, especially if traveling long distances or in an unreliable vehicle. Even if your vehicle has an emergency system, such as OnStar, it’s prudent to travel with a cellphone to alert family or friends that you’ve had vehicle trouble.
Never exit, examine the damage, or attempt any vehicle repair on the side of a roadway with a high traffic volume or traffic traveling at high speeds. Whatever the damage, it isn’t worth the risk of being struck by a passing vehicle.
If possible, move the vehicle to an area away from the roadway before getting out. When a vehicle isn’t drivable, lock the doors and call for help.
If another driver is involved, such as in a vehicle accident, motion for the other driver to accompany you to a safer spot before calling the authorities or exchanging personal information. When possible, try to find an area that isn’t busy with traffic, but that is still populated.
Turn on the hazard lights to alert other drivers that you have a problem. If the car is in a safe place, you may exit the vehicle to further mark the vehicle location and alert other drivers to a motionless vehicle with reflecting triangles or roadside flares.
It might damage the rim, but go ahead and drive the vehicle to a safe location before trying to change a flat tire. Any damage to the tire or rim can be fixed, whereas the probability of you being fixed after a high speed car strikes you isn’t so good.
In the event that a stranger approaches or offers assistance, return to safety of your vehicle. Don’t roll the window down or exit the vehicle. If you don’t personally know the person, yell to them that you have assistance coming and politely refuse their assistance.