One minute, you’re cruising down the road listening to your favorite song, not a care in the world. The next minute, nothing – no engine power, no dashboard lights, no headlights, no indicators, maybe even no power steering or power brakes, just an eerie silence punctuated by the sound of your wheels as your car starts to slow down.
Electrical failure can happen. And when it does, you’re likely to feel helpless, especially when out in traffic. Don’t panic. If you take these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to managing a potentially dangerous situation.
What to do
- If the driver’s window is already open, (or it can be rolled-down) use hand signals to indicate that you are changing lanes and pull over to the side of the road.
- Avoid any jerky motions. Provided the lane is clear, grip the wheel and carefully steer the car toward the slow lane, using the remaining forward momentum.
- Once safely in the breakdown lane, try to make sure you can be seen. Raise the hood and tie a cloth to the radio antenna or hang a “HELP” sign in your window if you have one in your emergency kit. If possible, place highway flares or hazard triangles behind your vehicle to alert other drivers. Remember, without electrical power, the hazard flashers will not operate.
- Don’t wait in your car if it is on the road – stand safely away from traffic on the side of the road. If your car is safely out of traffic, wait inside the vehicle with the doors (manually) locked.
- Use your cell phone to call for help. If someone stops to help, remain in your locked car. Crack the window slightly (if it can be rolled down) and ask him or her to call the police if you have not, or could not, do so. It’s important not to compromise your safety. Someone may want to take advantage of your predicament.