Pulling off on a busy roadway for a car repair is a dangerous—and potentially deadly—act.
On Saturday, a Baltimore County firefighter was hit and killed on I-695 after he stopped on the right shoulder to fix a flat tire with his father, who is currently being treated Shock Trauma.
The driver who caused the incident went off the roadway for unknown reasons, according to Maryland State Police, which is something that happens more often than you’d think.
“Any time you’re on the side of a road, especially an interstate, it’s a very dangerous place,” said Maryland State Police spokesperson Greg Shipley.
According to Shipley, 37 state troopers were hit while on the side of the road in 2016, due to drivers who were distracted, impaired or driving too fast.
If your car breaks down on the highway, here a few tips to keep in mind to stay safe:
Find an exit
While it can be difficult on some roads, Shipley said it’s best to pull as far off to the side of the shoulder as you can. What’s even better? Exiting the interstate entirely to handle a repair.
“If there’s an exit up ahead and you’re able to get your car off the busy highway, then do that,” he said.
Light your vehicle
Draw attention to your car once you’ve exited the road. Turn on your hazards, open your hood and keep your head and taillights on at night.
Shipley urges drivers to consider carrying emergency kits with reflective triangles to warn oncoming drivers. A reflective vest might also be a good option to wear in the event of a flat tire, but Shipley said it’s not foolproof. Highway workers have been hit on Maryland roadways while wearing safety gear.
If you can’t fix the issue, just call a tow service and wait with your seatbelt on, Shipley said.
Keep your car serviced
Making sure your car is in working order will keep you from dealing with roadside issues. If you find yourself stuck on an interstate highway without AAA service, dial #77 to contact state police, said Christine Sarames Delise of AAA Mid-Atlantic. Emergency vehicles patrol the highways daily offering support with refueling and changing a flat.
For more roadside tips, check out AAA's Guide to Personal Safety.