Breaking down on a freeway is one of the scariest experiences for any driver, whether they're a veteran or a P-plater. Regional highways and busy urban freeways are among the highest call-out areas for police and tow-truck drivers across the country, and anyone who's had to call for emergency towing in peak hour on a big road like Tullamarine Freeway knows it's a stress they'd rather avoid.
- If you see the warning signs of a breakdown, act immediately
If your car shows warning signs like engine smoke, lights coming on, "knocking" noises from the engine or other signals, don't delay taking action.
Switch your hazard and parking lights on straight away, in case of instant battery drain or because sudden engine failure makes your car stop abruptly.
- Pull over
Get into the safest lane so you can exit or pull over immediately, but do so safely - you don't want to cause an accident. If you can't get your car off the road, in Victoria you need to call VicRoads®'s Incident Response Service on 131 170 (in other states and territories similar numbers apply).
Try to get to the side of the road or in the emergency breakdown lane, as far to the left as you can. Avoid parking near a bend as this is the most dangerous and least visible area for other vehicles.
- Stay calm
It may be hard to remain calm, especially if you have children, other passengers, or pets in the car with you, but it is vital to keep your cool. Breathe deeply. Take note of any landmarks around you so you can direct an emergency service or tow-truck driver to your location.
- Remain in your vehicle
Stay in your vehicle until help arrives, unless you need to flag down someone (see number 6 on safely exiting your car). Keep your seat belt on and make sure your kids do too, if they're in the car.
- Call for help
Ideally you will have your mobile programmed with emergency numbers including 000, roadside assist and tow truck companies (like us).
Be aware that on a busy day, traffic noise can be deafening. Earplugs can help drown out some background noise, but be patient and don't panic; ask the person on the other end to repeat themselves as much as you need.
If your mobile is out of charge, exit your vehicle but be very careful stepping outside to flag down help, and use your judgement in who you accept assistance from.
- Only get out of the car on the passenger side
Only exit the vehicle on the passenger side, and always look before you exit. It's easy to feel distracted in such an overwhelming situation, but remember the basic rules of road safety and never walk on a freeway.
Recently in America, an NFL player's partner made headlines in tragic circumstances when she was killed by an oncoming vehicle, after stepping out of a car following a minor highway accident. This kind of heartbreaking fate shows just how critical it is to maintain basic safety precautions on major roads.
Prevention is better than reaction
Tragedies can be avoided by following Gisborne District Towing Services' six suggestions for safety. As VicRoads® licensed experts, we think prevention is better than reaction: you can avoid breakdowns by keeping your car regularly serviced.
Prepare yourself for long drives or daily commutes by staying stocked with a full tank of petrol and fully-charged phone; spare tyre and emergency car kit; and keep a torch, pen and paper handy in your car.
In the event you ever need emergency towing help, contact Gisborne District Towing Services on 0403 028 044 for support from experienced, competent drivers who provide the expert assistance and reassurance you need.