Breakdowns and accidents: What to do in an automobile emergency

Posted by: Cal on 16/01/2014

Category: General

Driving has forever revolutionised the way people get from A to B, but it's not without its hazards. From breaking down through to being affected by a car accident, take a look at this rundown of the most inconvenient and dangerous things that can happen on the road, and how to deal with them if they occur.

Flat tyres

Flat car tyres are a major inconvenience, especially if they occur when you are far away from a mechanic or service station. Luckily, all cars should come equipped with a spare tyre, usually located in the boot or under the bonnet of your vehicle.

Tyre maintenance on your spare is vital, so don't neglect to check its pressure and tread as you do with all your other tyres. This means if you do experience a flat tyre, you can replace it safely with a well-maintained spare.

While some of us may be inclined to seek help, either from a call-out servicing company or a passerby, it's perfectly possible to change your tyre yourself. It's best to try it out once or twice at home to ensure you can handle it in a pressure situation, but there's not as much to it as you may think.

All you need is a car jack, tyre wrench and lug nut key to make the change, plus some gloves for those who don't like getting their hands dirty. These (minus the gloves) should all be kept with your spare tyre, making it even easier to quickly replace the flat.

Don't neglect personal safety when changing your tyre on the road. Make sure your vehicle is pulled as far off the road as possible and turn your hazard lights on to let other drivers know you're there. Park it on a flat surface to prevent it from rolling and make sure the handbrake is in place.

Flat battery

Flat batteries are often caused by leaving your car lights on for too long, or letting the vehicle sit for long periods without driving it. Remedy this by driving your car frequently and making sure all devices are turned off when vehicles aren't in use.

Call-out services can assist you to determine the cause of the problem and either recharge or replace the battery, but many drivers may decide to fix the problem themselves.

Jump starting the car can be a short-term solution to help get the car running and therefore recharge the battery. If there continues to be problems with the battery, however, it's recommended you seek further assistance.

The process requires the connection of your flat battery with a running one in another car, and jumper leads are essential to getting things going again. Just remember that if either vehicle is alternatively fueled or has an electronic ignition system, using jumper cables can cause more damage than good.

Accident

Accidents do happen, especially when travelling via motor vehicle. If you are involved in one, the first thing to do is remain calm and level-headed. Check passengers for injuries in all vehicles, then call the appropriate emergency services.

It's important to exchange contact and insurance details with the other drivers involved in the accident, however it's best not to claim any responsibility for damage until your insurance company advises you on what you're covered for.

Take photos of the accident on your smartphone and write down as many details as you can remember. Move as much debris (including vehicles) to the side of the road as possible to help keep the traffic flow steady, and turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers to the situation.

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