I want to discuss something that most drivers do not plan for. Okay, so you fill your vehicle with fuel, air up your tires, check your oil and type your destination into your GPS. That’s a great start, but did you plan for a breakdown? You probably know to “move right” carefully until completely on the shoulder, which is the most accepted decision. What if you do not reach the shoulder? This can be one of the worst horrors you have ever had in your life. I do not mean your driving life, I mean your life. What happens when you are stopped between the yellow lines?
This is without a doubt the most dangerous situation one can be placed in on any major highway. What do you do? The well accepted position is to remain in your car with your seat belts on. I am a tow company owner, and the only times I have seen this decision made, it was a bad one. I want you to know that I see this from a towers position and not the perspective of an ambulance driver or a police officer – they would deal with one side, and I see the situation differently. I am not claiming to have done any research on this issue, and I believe someone should do a study on this specific situation. This next idea is open for thought, and again this is just an idea not a plan: move out of your car, move 50 to 100 feet ahead of the vehicle and use it in combination with anything else you can find for cover and protection. There are several different lanes each with a different description of what to do.
Outside right – the lane next to the shoulder
Exit to the right of the vehicle, out the passenger’s side. Do not forget to pop the hood latch. This not only might help your friendly tower, but it could assist the fire department if needed. Move 50 to 100 feet to the front of your car and stay as far to the right as you can possibly go. Only approach your car if emergency personnel arrive.
Any middle lane in heavy traffic
This is the tough one, and I do not have a good answer. This is a position that I think you are better off to remain in your car with seat belts on. More and more vehicles today are suited with safety brakes or distance detection devices that can apply your brakes even if you don’t. A smart braking system can see cars all around you, and it is becoming a standard feature on many new cars. That helps me take this position, but not nearly enough cars have them for the position to be sure. I believe that in the very near future this position will be absolute.
Outside left – the lane next to the median
Here is what I see on the highway; once another driver comes in eye contact with your disabled automobile, there is an immediate panic. The disturbed driver realizes that a decision has to be made. The driver’s eyes alerting his brain – do something! The driver reacts, but the brain is still on high alert. Once the driver clears the car his nerves subside, but now the driver is on the lookout for any other trouble. My conclusion is that you are better off to exit to the left of the disabled automobile (the driver’s side). Move 50 to 100ft in front of your automobile being guarded by not only your disabled automobile, but anything else you can find, while a driver already on alert and not in panic passes by. The odds of your disabled automobile getting hit are fairly high, but the odds of you getting injured are very slim. There is definitely room for thought here. This is my own opinion – take it for what it is worth, but it is the advice that I give my own family. Be safe out there.