Odds are that most of us, at some point, have been in a car which has suddenly experienced a mechanical failure or flat tire. Though you likely have many concerns at this point, your first concern should be your safety.
While we may pay careful consideration to our safety while our vehicle is in motion, too often, motorists are killed or injured after their cars are stopped due to a breakdown. Sadly, in many instances the victim had safely pulled to the side of the road and was blocking no traffic. These accidents are often due to careless or impaired drivers who veer out of their lanes and into the stalled car or person on the side of the roadway. However, drivers can take certain precautions to prevent such accidents from happening to them.
First, maintenance of your vehicle is foremost about safety. Ignoring something as basic as oil changes or fluid levels can mean not just expensive repairs but putting your passengers at risk. Failing to regularly maintain your tires can mean an inability to maneuver safely during sudden stops or wet weather conditions, as well as a greater likelihood of being stranded due to a blowout or flat tire. Always follow your vehicles maintenance schedule. Though our tendency may be to ignore recommended scheduled maintenance when a part, such as a belt, is still functioning, it is far better to go ahead and replace that older part before it fails on you without warning. In addition to ensuring safety, a car owner should be aware that in some cases they can be considered liable for another person’s injuries if an accident is caused by the owner knowingly failing to adequately maintain the vehicle.
Second, follow basic safety practices when you do experience a breakdown or flat tire. AAA auto club recommends a few steps to increase your safety during a breakdown. First, activate your emergency flashers. If at all safely possible, cautiously maneuver a vehicle off the roadway to either a parking lot or, if you can’t make it that far, to the right-hand shoulder. It can be tempting to try to minimize further damage to tire rims or engine parts by stopping the car where it is, but remember that no car is worth more than a life. Once you are in a safe location away from traffic, your best option is to keep your seat belts on and call for help from inside the car. When you are unable to remove your car from the roadway, wait until it is safe to exit the vehicle then quickly move to a location far away from the road. Under no circumstances should you stand in front of or behind the vehicle, or near moving traffic. If you experience a flat tire, do not attempt to change the tire yourself while near traffic. Call 911, a tow operator or your auto club to get you and your vehicle to safety. Also, be aware that your state may have a department specially created for assisting stranded drivers. Check the back of your driver’s license or nearby signs to find this number.
Finally, be aware of your rights. Recent news has shown us that car owners can experience dangerous mechanical failures due to negligent behavior by mechanics and car manufacturers. Additionally, even drivers and passengers who have safely maneuvered vehicles off of roadways have been injured or killed by careless or impaired drivers. If you have received a personal injury in a vehicular incident, contact an Illinois personal injury attorney who can advise you of your options.
About the Author: Brooke Haley marketing associate at Millon & Peskin, Chicago workers compensation lawyer that practice in the areas of Civil Litigation, Workers’ Compensation, and Personal Injury. Millon & Peskin is a General Civil Litigation Practice with the goal of representing the interests of injured workers, throughout all applicable Courts within the State of Illinois. For more information, please visit http://www.millonpeskin.com.