You pull over to the shoulder of a highway for one of many reasons. You may have a flat tire, a police officer is signaling for you to do so, one of your passengers has an emergency, and countless more. If you haven’t ever had to pull over or that experience didn’t go well, here are some safety tips for pulling over on a highway before you encounter a problem that necessitates it.
General Tips for Pulling Over
There are certain universal tips for safely pulling over on the highway. For one, pull as far over onto the shoulder as possible to allow a margin for other cars, decreasing your risk of a collision from behind by an oblivious driver. Next, turn on your hazard lights—the button is typically on the car’s dashboard, distinguished with two concentric red triangles—to warn other drivers that you’re pulling over. This increases their response time and allows them to predict your movements. Take the transition to the shoulder evenly and slowly, then when you’ve parked, avoid standing outside your vehicle. This applies even if you’re not on the side nearest traffic.
When You Have a Flat Tire
Specific safety tips for pulling over on the highway because of a flat don’t significantly diverge from general recommendations, but there are some additional factors involved. Grip your steering wheel firmly when you first feel your flat tire to maintain control and avoid braking. Coast to a lower speed and scan for a place ahead to pull over. Don’t brake until you are completely off the roadway. To safely change a flat tire, first make sure you are far enough off the road to do so without risk. If you’re not, consider calling a professional service.
When the Police Pull You Over
The situation is a bit different when you’re pulling over to obey signaling from an officer. Like always, pull over to a safe location. This helps protect you and the officer. Additionally, be sure to pull over gradually but soon after an officer signals with their lights. Signaling when you notice them helps communicate your actions to the officer. This eliminates the thought that you may want to buy time to hide something. Also, be aware of your speed when pulling over. Suddenly braking risks a collision with the patrol car behind you.