WHEN YOUR VEHICLE BREAKS DOWN ON THE FREEWAY
Know it's happening early - be sensitive to your vehicle. You need to respond immediately to any change in its normal function - smells, shaking, thumping, unexplained slowing, pulling left or right, etc.
If a tire if going flat or you have a blow-out, DO NOT SLAM ON THE BRAKES!. Simply take your foot off the gas and let the vehicle slow gradually. As you move to the side of the road, steer smoothly. DO NOT JERK THE STEERING WHEEL! The possibility of blowing a tire is very real and a primary reason for keeping both hands on the steering wheel at all times while driving.
When anything out of the ordinary occurs, begin moving to the right side of the freeway. You DO NOT want to break down in traffic lanes or in the center of the freeway. Whether in the center of the freeway or on the right shoulder, after you have come to a complete stop, before turing off the engine, turn your tires as far as you can AWAY from traffic. This will assure that if your vehicle is hit, it will not be propelled into the traffic lanes.
If your vehicle stops in the center of the freeway or in a traffic lane - STAY IN THE VEHICLE! If you get out, you will die. Period. No, it's not safe in the vehicle, but it's the safest option available to you at that point. Do not get out - do not think you can direct traffic around you - just sit. If you have a cell phone - dial 911.
If you are able to get to the side of the freeway, your next step depends on you and the circumstances. If you are a 23 year-old man, 6'4", 270 lbs. and it's high noon in a high traffic area, you're in a different situation than if you are an elderly woman, 5'0", 105 lbs. and its midnight in a deserted area. Your options are:
IN or OUT?
Stay in the vehicle? - this is commonly recommended, but the tendency of drunk drivers to hit parked cars makes this very scary.
Get out of the vehicle? - you will have lost the protection of the vehicle and need to get as far from the traffic lanes as possible.GOOD SAMARITAN or PSYCHO-FREAK?
You're on the side of the freeway. You're at risk. Period.
Whether you're in the car or out of it, you may be approached by someone offering assistance.
If you are in the car, open the window a crack and ask them to call for assistance.
If you are out of the car, I hope you can handle yourself.
If you are fortunate, the Freeway Service Patrol will pass by and assist you.