5 things to do in a roadside emergency

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 BEING PREPARED COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE: Knowing what to do in a roadside emergency could be difference between life and death on our roads. Image: Shutterstock ~ Supplied
A roadside emergency can be traumatic and that can cause most drivers to be so overwhelmed that they forget what to do, often leading to disaster on SA's roads.

If a flat tyre, mechanical breakdown, or empty fuel tank forces you to stop driving, the most important thing is to take action to ensure your safety and that of your passengers.

Here are some tips from the auto experts at Consumer Reports:

1 - Get off the road

Pull your vehicle as far off of the road as safely possible. If your vehicle is in or near traffic and you can safely walk to another location, do so.

If the vehicle is parked on the shoulder of a busy highway, exit on the passenger side. Lock the door and leave a note on the windshield in case roadside assistance or the police arrive.

2 - Make your vehicle as visible as possible

Turn on the hazard lights as soon as you realize that your vehicle is slowing down. Once stopped, use warning signals (i.e hazard triangle or warning light) to alert drivers to your vehicle's presence. Place the warning device as far behind your car as practical to give other road users as much notice as possible.

3 - Display a distress signal

If you need police help, raise the hood or tie a white cloth to the radio antenna or door handle, or hang the cloth out of the top of the door and close it on the cloth.

4 - Keep the doors locked

If the vehicle is in a safe location, wait inside  but keep the doors locked and your safety belt fastened.

5 - Exercise caution

Use good judgment when accepting help from strangers. If someone of whom you're suspicious stops next to your vehicle, lower the window just enough to talk out of. If you're waiting for help, thank them for stopping but tell them you don't need assistance. If you need help, ask them to make a call for you.