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  • McMillan Insurance Agency

Tuesday Tip: How to Handle a Roadside Breakdown

A survey by AAA discovered that four in 10 U.S. drivers are not ready to deal with typical roadside breakdowns. As you start planning upcoming travel make sure to follow these tips to help prepare for and handle a roadside breakdown.

Before a Roadside Breakdown: Map Out a Roadside Assistance Plan

It’s wise to decide ahead of time what you’ll do if your car breaks down while you’re on the road. Start by looking at your roadside assistance options and what they cover. Each plan offers different levels of service with different pros, cons and costs.

Here are four common ways to get roadside assistance coverage:

  • AAA Roadside Assistance-- One of the best-known ways to get roadside assistance: join the American Automobile Association (AAA). This club for drivers charges an annual membership fee that pays for a package of benefits including roadside service.

  • Car Insurance Roadside Assistance-- Some car insurance policies include roadside assistance or allow you to add it to your policy. Check with your us or look at your policy to see if you have roadside assistance with your car insurance and what is included. If you don’t have it already, you may be able to easily add coverage.

  • Credit Card Roadside Assistance-- Some credit cards offer roadside assistance as a cardmember benefit. Check the terms and conditions of your credit card to see if this perk is included. If it is, read the fine print to learn how to use it and how much it costs.

  • Car Manufacturer Roadside Assistance--Many car manufacturers offer roadside assistance up to a certain mileage or timeframe on new vehicles. If you have a new car, check to see if roadside assistance is included for you, what it covers and how long it lasts.

How to Prepare an Emergency Car Care Kit

Put together a kit containing the items you might need during a roadside breakdown. When it comes to supplies, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your car care kit should consist of a canvas bag or plastic tote bin and contain the following:

  • Cell phone charger

  • First-aid kit

  • Jumper cables

  • Flares or reflective warning triangles

  • Flashlights and extra batteries

  • Blankets

  • Paper towels

  • Drinking water

  • Nonperishable snacks

  • Any medication that you or one of your regular passengers may need

  • If you live in an area that gets snow: a window scraper, small shovel and kitty litter.

It’s especially important to remember your cell phone charger and keep your phone plugged in while you drive. If you get into an accident, have a roadside breakdown or get stuck in snow, you may need your phone to call for help. You should also make alterations to your kit based on the season. In the wintertime, you may want to include extra garments, such as gloves and hats. Add extra water bottles, sunblock, instant cold packs and bug repellent in the summer.

What to Do if You Have a Roadside Breakdown

Your top priority when your vehicle breaks down is to get it to the safest position possible. From there, you can signal for help. If you’re capable of making repairs you can also do that. These are the things you should keep in mind.

  • Move your vehicle to safe location

  • Only make the repairs you feel comfortable making

  • Practice personal safety

Vehicle break downs can be scary because they’re often unexpected. But if you prepare for a breakdown, it’s no longer unexpected—it’s just inconvenient. By following these steps, you can help stay safe during a breakdown and get back on the road sooner.

Have you had a roadside breakdown? What additional tips would you add to help readers stay safe?

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