What to do if your vehicle breaks down on the highway
If your vehicle runs out of gas, has a flat tire or has a mechanical
breakdown while youíre driving on the highway, itís natural to feel
anxious, frustrated or even scared. Despite this stress, you can
protect yourself, your passengers, and other motorists if you stay
calm and make safety-conscious decisions. The State Patrol offers the
At the first sign of trouble, gently take
your foot off the accelerator. Donít brake hard or suddenly. Carefully
steer your vehicle to the far right-side of the highway while keeping
your eye on traffic and using your turn signals to indicate your
intentions. Stop your vehicle as far away from traffic as you can.
Donít stop your vehicle in a traffic lane.
If you are on an
Interstate or other heavily traveled highway, try to exit if at all
possible. If you have a flat tire, itís often wiser to risk damage to
the wheel rim than to try to change it on the side of a busy highway
where you might be hit by fast-moving vehicles.
If you cannot
exit off the highway, be absolutely certain traffic conditions allow
you to change a tire or make repairs safely. Remain alert to the
traffic around you. While outside your vehicle, avoid turning your
back toward oncoming traffic. As an emergency precaution, look for a
way to quickly get out of the path of an impaired or distracted
driver. If you have passengers, have one of them observe traffic to
warn you of possible dangers.
Never assume that the driver
of another vehicle can see you, so make your vehicle as visible and
conspicuous as possible. Reflective triangles and flares provide an
effective warning to other motorists. At the very least, use your
emergency flashers, and if itís dark, turn on the interior dome light.
Raise your hood and tie something white to an antenna or hang it out
the window so law enforcement officers know you need help.
your vehicle is safely away from traffic, wait inside the vehicle with
the doors locked and safety belts buckled. There is protection inside
your vehicle - but none outside of it. Use your cell phone to call for
help, such as a tow truck or roadside assistance. If a stranger stops
to offer help, open the window slightly to talk but donít open the
It is extremely dangerous to walk along a busy highway
especially during bad weather conditions. You should never try to
cross multiple lanes of a high-speed highway. However, if you can
safely walk to a gas station or other location to get assistance you
should exit your vehicle on the right-side away from traffic and walk
on the right-side of the roadway. If possible, use guard-rails as
protective barriers between you and traffic while you walk.
enforcement officers routinely patrol most major highways and will
help if your vehicle breaks down or youíre stranded in bad weather.
Freeway service patrols operate on the Beltline in Madison, I-94 in
the Milwaukee area and in some interstate work zones to assist
motorists in disabled vehicles.