Vehicle Breakdowns: How to Prevent Them & How to Be Safe When It Happens

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to predict when your car will break down and leave you stranded on the side of the road. Each year, people are killed and injured by other vehicles while they wait for assistance or tend to the problem themselves. In August of 2015, the infamous Maryland caped crusader, “Route 29 Batman”, was struck and killed by a vehicle as he checked out his car’s engine on the side of the road. Despite the line of cars parked behind him with their hazards on, it did little to avoid a speeding car that crashed into the out-of-service vehicle. The Maryland man’s tragic story is just one of many, from police officers to people changing tires, who are killed or injured on the roadside.

Prevent a Breakdown


The best way to prevent a breakdown is ensuring that your car is in good working order. While some vehicle issues seem to occur suddenly and without warning, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce the risk of breakdown on the side of the road:


  • Check your tires and car battery: Two of the most common reasons for a vehicle breakdown occurs when a battery stops working or the tires have a flat. For these reasons, have a trusted car technician check out your battery and the condition of your tires. For better wear, have your tires rotated as scheduled and check the air pressure each time you fill up for gas.


  • Low Fuel: If you are one of those drivers who has the habit of driving “almost on empty” before you fill up the tank, ditch that bad driving habit. Even if you know how many miles you can get before the fuel light comes on, you should always try to keep your tank at at least half full. You never know when a regular commute will be slowed with traffic or detoured by a construction project. Having a half full tank is particularly smart during winter months when your car is more likely to get stranded or stuck.


  • Get a Checkup: Each time you get your oil changed, have your technician do a quick check on fluids, fuses, cables, and hoses. Even a small leak or poor connection can lead to a breakdown.

When Your Car Breaks Down, Be Safe


A vehicle breakdown is never convenient. If your car suddenly malfunctions, try to navigate to the shoulder of the road and away from traffic if possible. Remember these valuable safety tips if your car breaks down:


  • Always use your hazards or flashers when attempting to drive your car to the side of the road or while the car is stalled.


  • Do not attempt to fix the issue yourself unless you are completely confident that you can fix it quickly and safely.


  • Even if you believe in the kindness of strangers, be wary of accepting help from someone you don’t know. Instead, call someone you know, the police, or assistance from a towing company.


  • Try to stay in your car unless the malfunction (such as a fire or noxious fumes) are making the car more unsafe.


  • If you have reflective triangles, carefully place them behind your car otherwise, pop the hood. Anything that will make you visible without compromising your safety.


  • Never try to interfere with the flow of traffic by flagging down another driver. This could cause an accident and you could be injured or killed.


Taking the steps to prevent your vehicle’s breakdown and knowing what to do in the event of one can save your life.