A breakdown, or an accident, necessarily leads to stress for the driver; no one escapes it. Knowing the right behaviour to adopt in such a situation is already a (good) step forward in order to reduce this panic.
The first thing you need to think about is safety. Here are a few tips:
- Put on your yellow safety vest BEFORE getting out of your vehicle. To ensure always having it at hand, store it in the side compartment of your door.
- With the warning lights switched on, you can secure the area to avoid all risks (creating or worsening an accident) with your pre-warning triangle set at least 30 meters away from the back of your vehicle. Attention, on the highway we do not advise you to use this triangle, it is too dangerous!
- Don’t forget to then stay BEHIND the security fence
- Ring the emergency numbers (112 from your mobile phone) or via a call terminal if it’s not too far!
There is a multitude of cases when basic accidents happen. Explanations:
If a tyre bursts, try to stay on track as much as possible; do not brake and just let the vehicle slow down on its own. To do this, use the engine brake to slow down by gradually lifting the foot off the accelerator. And above all, keep both hands on the wheel! Visit the nearest motorway service area or a parking lot to change your tire or use an anti-puncture “spray”!
You are cruising, at any authorized speed, and suddenly no more brakes! Hold the steering wheel firmly with both hands and try to slow down. If you are already driving at a slow pace, use the parking brake; if you do not, proceed to lower your speed as quickly as possible. Do not forget to switch on your hazard lights to warn other drivers of your slowing down.
It is very important to check your brakes before driving and do not hesitate to test them when you are going downhill too, to see how effective they are.
If you witness an accident, assisting is a legal obligation. Secure the area to warn other motorists and contact emergency services. While waiting for their arrival, you can reassure and comfort the victims. As a witness, the police forces will ask for your contact information and an explanation of what you saw.
Even if stress may not be avoidable, the important thing is to focus, take a deep breath and to think safety!