What to do when: Your car breaks down in the middle of the road

Bit of caution and upkeep of your cars and the vehicles can last the hot summer season without unpleasant incidents. (Patrick Castillo)

Extreme summer temperatures can have adverse effects on your vehicles, which can lead to road accidents.

However, with a bit of caution and upkeep of your cars, passengers and their vehicles can endure the hot summer season without unpleasant incidents.

Emergency situations

In the worst case scenario of an emergency situation when your car breaks down in the middle of a road, the most important thing is to try and remain calm.

If you have the option to avail of a road side assistance service, do it in an emergency. In addition to the above, some simple tips can be useful in a potentially hazardous situation:

#1 Put your hazard lights on. Get your vehicle off the road, if possible.

#2 Check the surrounding area and cautiously pull over to the right hand side to the hard shoulder of the road. It is important to decelerate in a gradual manner as abrupt breaking can also cause an accident.

#3 Put the car in park and engage the handbrake.

#4 Alight from the vehicle from the right-hand (passenger) door.

#5 Put a warning, reflective triangle on the road at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind your broken down vehicle on the same side of the road. Always take great care when doing this.

#6 Raise the vehicle’s hood and tie something white to the radio antenna or hang it out the window so police officers or tow truck operators will know help is needed.

#7 Do not stand (or let anybody else stand) between your vehicle and oncoming traffic.

#8 Call the local emergency services/roadside assistance as the situation demands.

#9 It is always advised to get out of your car and maintain a safe distance while you wait for help to arrive.

#10 Do not try to flag down other vehicles, i.e., don’t solicit the help of passing motorists.

In addition, here is a check list by Infiniti Middle East and RoadSafetyUAE that can help reduce the number of road traffic fatalities, road traffic injuries and road traffic accidents in the UAE.

Tyre safety

High temperatures can become a serious problem for tyres, especially if they are not properly maintained. Incorrect inflation pressures, poor wheel balance and alignment also contribute to a reduction in tyre life and safety. A simple checklist will improve your chances of being safe during summer travel:

#1 Use only reputable branded and certified tyres. Avoid fitting tyres which may be substandard and therefore potentially unsafe.

#2 Use the correct tyre type and dimension for your vehicle. Refer to the vehicle owner’s manual or ask for expert advice if not sure.

#3 Check the tyre pressures at least once per month using a reliable or calibrated gauge. The recommended pressures are quoted in the vehicle owner’s manual or on a sticker usually attached to a door frame or fuel cover. Make sure that the pressures are checked when the tyres are “cold”, i.e. driven less than 3km before the check.

#4 Inflating tyres with nitrogen instead of air can help to maintain pressure stability for longer periods.

#5 Respect the load and speed capabilities of the tyres fitted to the vehicle by not exceeding them.

#6 Avoid driving over or near hazardous objects that could damage the tyres and make them unsafe or unfit for service, for example, rocks, glass, potholes, curbs etc.

Vehicle fires

The increased temperatures in the region increase the propensity for vehicle fires. Research indicates that that 75 per cent of vehicle fires are caused by bad maintenance, mechanical or electrical failures or malfunctions.

Collisions or overturns caused only three per cent of these fires but 57 per cent of the associated deaths. One-third of non-fatal vehicle fire injuries occurred when civilians attempted to fight the fire themselves.

A few simple tips below can avoid a potentially hazardous situation:

#1 Vehicle maintenance and inspection is crucial to prevent vehicle fires.

#2 Watch for fluid leaks under vehicles, cracked or blistered hoses, or wiring that is loose, has exposed metal or has cracked insulation.

#3 Avoid throwing cigarette butts anywhere.

#4 When driving, be alert to changes in the way your vehicle sounds when running, or to a visible plume of exhaust coming from the tailpipe. A louder than usual exhaust tone, smoke coming from the tailpipe or a backfiring exhaust could mean problems or damage to the high-temperature exhaust and emission control system on the vehicle.

Vehicle maintenance

With the harsh summer climate of the region, proper maintenance of your vehicle is of paramount importance especially where the dusty/sandy conditions and high temperatures take a toll on your vehicle.

Checks should happen regularly to avoid break downs or accidents. The tips below will be useful to making sure that your vehicle is in the best of health:

#1 Use only original spare parts. Original spare parts are manufactured to the highest of quality and specifications to withstand the pressures of the internal engine environment. The use of cheaper sub-standard parts can be detrimental to the vehicle as well as its passengers.

#2 Ensure a qualified expert periodically checks your brake pads, brake discs and braking fluids.

#3 Ensure that the gas levels in the air conditioning compressor as well as the filters are cleaned regularly, especially in summer.

#4 Ensure that other important fluids are at the appropriate levels. This includes radiator coolant fluid, battery coolant, transmission and engine oil.

Seat belts

In a vehicle, the seat belt is the first line of defence for all inhabitants in a vehicle. Wearing your seat belt should become a regular practice not just in the summer months, but at all times when using a vehicle. The chance of serious injury or a fatality becomes significantly higher when you do not buckle up.

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