Picture this, you’re halfway into an exquisitely planned driving holiday. You’ve packed snacks, sunscreen, sanitiser and you’re listening to the ultimate playlist. Suddenly, the last thing you expected to happen happens, a car breakdown.
This is just the worst, and you’re stranded in – what’s this place called – the middle of nowhere.
Let’s rewind a bit to before you start your driving holiday. First, check out our holiday road trip hacks and then let’s have a quick pre car breakdown prep talk…
Car breakdown prep talk
Not all models of cars can charge phones when they are switched off (aka broken down). That’s why it’s a good idea to keep them charging while you’re in the car – so you’ll have enough battery if you end up stranded. You’ll want to call someone to assist you and be able to give them your GPS location.
If you own a spare phone battery or mobile phone and SIM, pack them fully charged and switched off for your driving holiday. If your primary phone dies, this could save you the long walk to an emergency roadside phone (last option).
Store your emergency numbers on speed dial – especially roadside assistance. Also, write them down on paper and pack this in a safe-but-not-hard-to-find place in your car.
If you have kids or pets in cars within your entourage, pack extra, food, water and toys/entertainment. You don’t want to be left on the side of the road without supplies to stop the cries… Been there, done that!
A calm, full and happy crew is good all-round for morale. Morale is the first step towards a happy solution in any given situation. OK, prep talk out the way, it’s back to business and back to the scene of the car breakdown…
1. Pull over
Even if your car has stalled, it will usually have some momentum. Use this to pull off the road so you can park safely out of the driving lanes. As far away from other vehicles as possible. The last thing you want is to be involved in an accident with moving traffic while you’re in a parked car.
Keep your keys with you and if it’s safe to do so, exit through the passenger side to stay clear of traffic. Children and pets must also only climb out on the left side of the car, and only if it’s safe for them to do so.
If for some reason you can’t safely exit your car or there is nowhere safe to stand, stay put and buckle up.
If it is safe, once out, everyone must stand clear of the road and behind a barrier if there is one.
Also check whether there is anything leaking from your car. If it’s fuel get as far away from the car as safely possible and be sure to mention this urgently to your roadside assist service. Never ignore a fuel leak – here’s why.
2. Switch your hazards on
Hazard lights are a preventive measure against further hazards. So, get them blinking.
This warns oncoming traffic that your car is stationary, well in advance of them getting near you. This will prompt other motorists to drive defensively before they get too close.
3. Call roadside assistance
If you have roadside assistance, you’re probably high fiving yourself for planning so well.
Call and let them know your location. If you’re not sure where you are, let them know the direction you came from and any landmarks you saw recently or see now. Or, tell them where you’re headed and how long you’ve been driving to help them locate you.
If you feel you’re in an unsafe location or have young children with you, tell the operator of the urgency of your situation.
If you don’t have roadside assistance, you’ll need to contact a tow company.
4. Stay focused
In a breakdown situation, you’ll probably go onto high alert automatically. This is a natural protective instinct which helps you to navigate unforeseen situations and stay calm. Use this feeling to keep focussed. If you have children with you, or pets, this will show them they’re protected and help them to feel safe.
Ditto with other shaky passengers, even the adult ones 😉
Treat your BFF to a safeguarded driving holiday
This will give you that extra spark so you can focus on making the most of Australian tourism treats.
Car breakdown on a driving holiday – over to you
Is the situation of a car breakdown one that sounds familiar? Were you on your own or with a crew and what did you do to bide the time and get rescue? If you’d like to share your story with us either in the comments below or for publication, let us know. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!