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What to do if your car breaks down at night

Breaking down at night on South Africa’s roads can be a scary experience, particularly if you’re a woman and you’re on your own…

Breaking down at night on South Africa’s roads can be a scary experience, particularly if you’re a woman and you’re on your own.

As Murphy’s Law would have it, your car will probably break down in the most awkward place at the most inconvenient time. This catches you off-guard so you might feel vulnerable and sometimes disorientated for a moment until you figure out what you should do.

With a high crime rate and road death toll there are certain things every woman should do to stay safe until help arrives.

  1. If you need to pull over on the highway, remember that the hard shoulder is only for emergencies. If it is an emergency or you can’t stop anywhere else, you’ll need to stop as far left as you can with your wheels turned to the left.
  2. Put as many lights on as possible (hazards, sidelights, inside lights) so that you’re clearly visible to other motorists.
  3. If you need to get out of the vehicle, you should do so on the left-hand (passenger side).
  4. If you have any bright or reflective clothing (jackets) put that on as soon as possible.
  5. Don’t stand between your vehicle and oncoming traffic
  6. DON’T EVER ATTEMPT TO FIX YOUR CAR YOURSELF! At night, you need to be as alert and conscious of your surroundings as possible. Being distracted makes you an easy target for criminals and reckless drivers.
  7. Phone a friend, family member or the AA instead.
  8. If you suspect you’re being targeted by someone or if you feel unsafe, get in your car (through the passenger door) and lock all your doors until that person has passed.

If you’re aware that your car has a few problems, it’s important that you always carry the following items with you when driving:

  • The phone number and details of the AA or roadside assist company
  • Make sure your phone battery is charged up before getting in your car, in case you need to make emergency calls
  • Coins or a phonecard, if you’re unable to use your cellphone and need to find a call box
  • Comfortable shoes – you’ll thank yourself for keeping those in your car if you ever have to walk or run long distances to get help.
  • Red triangle – to alert motorists
  • Warm clothes and a reflective jacket

Also read: What women need to know about roadblocks 

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