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Here's What You Do If You Break Down on the Highway

Here's What You Do If You Break Down on the Highway

If you have broken down on the highway and you are in a lane, stay in your car. Keep your seatbelt on and call 911 to request traffic assistance from police.

If you have not yet broken down, but are experiencing engine  trouble and believe you can make it to the next exit, turn on your emergency lights and carefully make your way off the highway and out of harm's way.

Once you and your vehicle are out of immediate danger, follow the below steps:

1. Turn your hazard lights on if you have not already.

2. Turn your wheels away from the road & put on your parking brake. This will prevent your vehicle from rolling back into traffic. This is especially important if you are on a hill or slope.

3. Call for help. Depending on your safety and the threat your car poses to other drivers, you will want to call 911 or your roadside assistance service. Police can help redirect or slow traffic in hazardous situations. However, you only need to call your normal roadside assistance if you manage to exit onto a non-busy street. 

4. Make your vehicle visible. In addition to your hazard lights, this might include popping your hood, using road flares, or turning on interior lights if it’s dark out. These precautions are to alert fellow drivers and will make you easily spotted by your incoming assistance.

5. Determine the safest location for you to wait for assistance. If you are still in a lane or on the inside shoulder/left hand side of the highway, stay in your vehicle. Most breakdown injuries occur when drivers exit their vehicle in unsafe environments. If you managed to exit the highway to a non-busy street or are on the outside shoulder/right hand side with a guardrail present, then you may exit your vehicle through the passenger side door and wait a safe distance away behind the rail. Remember: drivers tend to go where their eyes are looking, and that may include where you are attending your broken down vehicle. 

Remember, your personal safety is what matters more in these situations. Be aware of your surroundings and call a trusted service number to assist you. 


Vehicle care information made available by Metro Motor is presented as helpful advice for general maintenance and should not be construed as instructions for at-home vehicle service. Be sure to consult your owner’s manual and a licensed, professional mechanic for diagnostics and repair.

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