Summer road trips can be a lot of fun for the family, but a breakdown on the side of the road while you are far from home can be both difficult and dangerous if you have kids. The following tips can help keep your family safe in unfamiliar territory while you await the tow driver.
Tip #1: Set up for safety
Safety is the key concern, especially when you have your whole family in the car with you. Get as far off the road and onto the shoulder as possible and turn on the hazard lights. If the children need to exit the vehicle for any reason, it should only be on the side facing the shoulder, not oncoming traffic. Generally, it is best to stay in the car with seat belts on until help arrives. If it is safe to do so, get out of the vehicle and set up flares or safety cones from your emergency kit. These will help alert other drivers to your presence.
Tip #2: Be prepared
While chances are you have the car fully stocked with road trip goodies, keep a few surprises tucked away for difficult moments like this. A few extra snacks, water bottles, and a new toy or book can make the wait in a hot car a little more pleasant. You should also have a few emergency items stowed in the trunk in case help doesn't come right away. This includes extra water, a first aid kit, and blankets. Even in the summer, some parts of the country can become uncomfortably cold at night.
Tip #3: Pack an extra charge
Depending on the type of break down, you may not be able to charge your cell phone if the battery goes dead. This can be especially true on a road trip, when children may also be using the phone for entertainment. Fortunately, battery operated emergency chargers for cell phones are inexpensive. Tuck a couple into your glove box just in case.
Tip #4: Stay put or leave wisely
Although it is best to stay put, you may need to leave. If you break down near civilization, it may be more pleasant to walk to a nearby restaurant to await a tow driver. In more rural areas, it may even be safe to leave the vehicle and set up on a blanket a safe distance off the road, such as in a shady copse of trees. It's best if one adult stays with the vehicle, but if this isn't possible let the tow truck dispatcher know where you will be and leave a note on the car windshield letting the driver know where you are and your contact information.
Tip #5: Arrange for transportation
It's usually protocol for a tow driver to give the vehicle owner a lift back to town when towing the vehicle, but there might not be room for your entire family. When calling the tow company, let them know how many people are with you and ask if they can handle transportation. If not, you may need to also call a cab if the town isn't within walking distance. If an adult cannot travel with the tow truck driver to the shop, make sure you write down the driver's name, plate number, and the name, address, and phone number of the mechanic to which your vehicle is being towed.
For more information, contact a professional like Michael's Towing & Recovery Service.