Sudden car trouble can turn any trip into a nightmare. While you may be able to make minor repairs on the side of the road, you must use extreme caution when doing so -- the side of the road is a dangerous place and many people are hurt and killed by passing cars each year.

It is easy to recommend calling an emergency truck repair service to take care of the problem or tow your vehicle to a safer location, but while this is the safest option, it is not always feasible. Sometimes, you simply must take matters into your own hands and perform the necessary repairs.

Keep safety at the forefront of your mind during such occasions.

  • If possible, move the vehicle as far onto the shoulder as is possible. If you cannot move the vehicle out of the roadway, stay in your car, activate your hazard lights, keep your seatbelt buckled and call 911. The authorities will dispatch an emergency vehicle or police officer to assist you.
  • Instruct all other occupants of the vehicle to stay inside, with their seatbelts buckled. This is especially important advice for young children (who should remain in their car seat while you are making repairs).
  • Place an emergency light or flare about 100 feet behind your car to alert other drivers to your presence. If you do not possess either of these items, consider attaching a flag or piece of fabric to your cars antenna. You can also open your car's hood or trunk to help capture the attention of passing motorists.
  • If you must leave the vehicle (if, for example, you need to walk to a gas station for fuel), lock the car doors and walk as far from the roadway as is feasible. Carry a flashlight with you if you must walk during the night; this will not only help you spot and avoid potential trip hazards, but it will help motorists see you.
  • If the weather is severe, remain in your car and call for help. Poor weather – particularly heavy rain or snow – lowers visibility and increases the chances that another car will hit you.
  • Should passing motorists stop and offer assistance, use caution and common sense. If you feel like they may have nefarious intentions, return to your car, lock the doors and call the authorities for help.  
  • Turn off the car radio and ask any passengers to remain reasonably quiet. This will allow you to hear approaching cars better, which may give you an extra split second to move out of the way if need be.