As we move closer and closer to the holiday season, we start to think about all the road trips that are coming up. Have you started to plan for your Thanksgiving and Christmas highway hops? If not, it’s never too early to give it some thought, and our first thought is always safety. Beyond checking your tires and doing some general maintenance checks on your vehicle, what are some other things you should keep in mind?
Even brand new tires can run into problems, so while that pre-trip check is really important, you have to be prepared for things like road hazards, right? Things you just can’t predict. So, what do you do if you have a flat? You change it, of course! And while we’ve offered a how-to on that in the past, we’d also like to shine a light on how to change a flat as safely as possible.
A flat tire is never convenient, but if you’re out on the open road, it can be even less convenient, as well as dangerous. The biggest issue, if you’re changing a tire, say, on the side of a busy highway, is being seen. So, if you find yourself on the side of the road, here are a few steps to make sure you can get your tire changed and get back on the road again safely.
- Get out of traffic. While you want to get out of traffic as quickly as possible, practice caution as well. It won’t do you any good to cut someone off to get to the shoulder, right? So, put on your blinker and work your way over. You don’t want to ride your brakes hard in the case of a blow out or flat tire because the flat will affect your vehicle’s handling. Instead, take your foot off the gas, and drift on over to the shoulder, applying the brakes slowly, if needed.
- Once you get off the road, get as far off the road as possible. If there’s enough room to safely get your car off pavement, go for it. The more distance between you and a busy roadway, the better.
- If your flat is on the side of the vehicle closest to traffic, you’ll want as much distance as possible from speeding cars; so, if you can, turn your car (even if you have to turn the car all the way around), so that the injured tire is away from traffic. Ever been driving along and been surprised by a sudden movement on the side of the road? Even if you can see a parked car on the side of the road, a person crouched beside it may not stand out and sudden movements may jar other drivers. Distance is your friend.
- Obviously, the key to staying safe is room (mentioned above) and being seen. Do what you’ve got to do to be noticed, so that other drivers can slow down, move over and away from you or just show more caution as they pass you by. Blinkers and hazard lights are step one. Get those blinkers and hazard lights blazing and let them burn.
- Got precious cargo? Get your passengers out of the car and away from the roadway–if there is room to safely do this. They should be as far as possible from the road (and away from the vehicle) as possible, not just as far as you were able to move the vehicle, got it? If you can’t get very far away from the road, leave them be–and strapped safely in.
- It’s never a bad idea to stock a few items with your spare that can help keep you visible and safe on the highway. Flares can be effective in letting people know you’re there, but so are flags on poles (especially during the day).
- Once you’ve made yourself as visible as possible, stay aware of your surroundings.
Another good idea: Have a roadside assistance plan. If you don’t feel capable of changing a tire and/or don’t want the hassle of trying, or if you just want the added security of knowing that someone will come help if you can’t safely change your tire, consider a roadside assistance plan. RNR offers a roadside assistance plan (Road Warrior) on new tire purchases, and Road Warrior is included with all lease-purchase agreements at no additional charge , so ask your sales associate about our Road Warrior plan when you go in. They can fill you in on all the details. Just as important as having the tools to change a flat is having the ability to stay safe while getting the job done. So, take my advice and plan ahead.