If you’ve never been stranded on the side of the road, you should count yourself lucky. Stranded motorists are often in predicaments that can severely jeopardize their safety and security. Whether a person has locked their keys in their car, or lost the key entirely, being stranded puts you at risk. So how do you deal with this state of vulnerability and know what to do when your car breaks down? It’s hard to plan for unforeseen circumstances but being armed with these five safety tips will help you better navigate the problem and stay safe.
1. Assess Your Surroundings
The first step to staying safe while stranded on the roadside is to assess your surroundings. Take the time to adequately analyze the immediate area around you, then take yourself out of harm's way. Pay close attention to the flow of traffic (if any) and the layout of the road or area that you are stranded on. Scenarios in which you might find yourself stranded can arise at any time and at any place, so always keep a close eye on what is around you.
In some cases, stranded motorists jeopardize their own safety because they neglect to monitor the state of things around them. This puts stranded motorists at risk of being hit by another road user or getting injured on treacherous terrain. You should always assess your surroundings before you do anything else. This also gives you an opportunity to assess the state of your vehicle.
2. Make Yourself Visible
Visibility has a direct impact on your level of safety when you are stranded as a motorist. This applies whether you find yourself stranded during the day or at night. Always make it an effort for yourself and your vehicle to be visible. If possible, drivers should turn on their hazard/emergency lights. This will help keep other drivers alert and might even get you some help from a kind bystander.
While stranded in a parking lot visibility is also important, as you may be vulnerable to passersby as well as traffic. If you are stranded in a location with very minimal lighting, it makes it easier for criminals to sneak up on you or for you to be harmed without anyone noticing. Try to move to an area with better lighting. However, if your keys are still left in your car, do not leave your car abandoned. Instead, reach out to AAA, an emergency locksmith or other roadside assistance providers.
3. Utilize Personal Safety Tools
Driver’s should make a habit of carrying at least one personal safety tool in their vehicle at all times. Having personal safety tools handy is one of the best ways to protect yourself, if you are stranded motorist. Sometimes, you will not be able to leave your vehicle to go get help but you still want to ensure that you are protected while you wait. These safety tools range from active safety tools to passive safety tools.
A common example of a passive safety tool would be the Mace® Brand LED Adjustable Safety Band, which helps keep you visible. An example of an active safety tool would be the Mace® Brand Peppergel Distance Defense Spray. Personally, I believe motorists should take advantage of both active and passive safety tools.
Having these tools on you will make it much easier for you to assess your vehicle safely and also protect yourself from any would-be attacker. Drivers can incorporate these safety tools into their road trip safety kit so that they can always stay safe while on the road.
4. Alert People To Your Location
It always helps stranded motorists to alert others to their location and their plight. Telling someone where you are and that you are stranded by your vehicle, only helps to increase your level of safety. It makes it easier for people to reach you and assist you because they know where you are, and they have also been made aware that you are in need of help. If you have locked your keys in your car, you can get assistance or have a friend bring your spare keys or supplies.
Ideally, drivers should have a shortlist of emergency contacts that they can reach out to in situations like this. This list can consist of family members, neighbors or any other close associates. However, motorists should always call 9-1-1, if they believe their lives are at risk while stranded by their vehicles.
5. Be Wary of Strangers
Stranded motorists often come into contact with strangers and while strangers can sometimes be of great help, they can also put your safety at further risk. Criminals often disguise themselves as regular, helpful individuals, so that they can take advantage of someone's trusting nature.
As a safety precaution for stranded motorists, always ask for identification from anyone that comes up to you offering assistance. This might seem like it does not accomplish much but it throws most criminals off guard and might deter them from taking advantage of you. On the other hand, a friendly passerby won’t mind obliging to your request.
Approaching every situation with safety in mind is the best way to navigate life but in the instance where you are already at a disadvantage, having these safety tips handy will do a great deal of good.