Dealing with a Broken Down Car

A flapping sound from your back tire. Smoke coming from the hood of your car. A random thumping noise from your engine. When you’re on the road, these aren’t things you want to hear or see!

When your car breaks down on the road, it can be a stressful situation. Are you supposed to stay in your car? Should you push your car out of the road? Who do you call for assistance?

When your car breaks down while you’re driving, the first step, if possible, is to get off the road. If you feel like something is wrong, pull over to a safe spot before your car breaks down entirely. If your car suddenly breaks down in the middle of the road, turn on your hazard lights. This will alert other drivers that you have to come to a full stop. To make your car more visible, you can also raise your vehicle’s hood or tie something bright, like a bandana, around your antenna.

While you can attempt to push your car to the side of the road, it’s safer to stay in your car. By getting out, you put yourself at risk of being hit by another driver. If it is dark outside or there is poor visibility, it’s particularly important to take caution. If you do have to get out, exit on the side that is facing away from traffic.

The next step is to seek help. Before calling someone, assess the situation. Try to figure out what the problem is with your vehicle, so that you can give a good idea of what needs to be fixed. You should also look for any nearby surroundings. If you can identify a landmark, like a mile marker, it will be easier for someone to come to your assistance.

Now, who should you call?  If you have a membership with AAA, this is the time to put that membership to use. They can send a roadside technician to provide basic services like providing fuel, changing tires, or boosting a battery. They can also provide towing services. In Florida, AAA memberships cost $66 per year for basic services. It might seem like a high price just for peace of mind, but if your car does break down, assistance from AAA can cut down on a lot of stress.

If you don’t have a membership with AAA or a similar company, you still have options. You could call a friend or family member to come help, or call a local towing company. If you have no other options, you can call 911 or a non-emergency number, but unless you are in real danger, calling 911 should be a last resort. That said, you absolutely should call 911 if you feel endangered at any point—for example, if someone threateningly approaches you while you’re stuck in your car, go ahead and call 911.

Once help is on the way, stay in your vehicle. Make sure to turn off your engine, so that you are not putting yourself at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, and keep your doors and windows locked, especially at night. If you have to exit your car while waiting for help, be aware of your surroundings and watch out for any oncoming traffic.

Keep these helpful tips in mind to give yourself some peace of mind on the road!


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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