Roadside Breakdown—What To Do And How To Avoid It

To be stranded on a concrete island like a modern-day Robinson Crusoe—or worse, stuck in a lane on a busy freeway, with other vehicles flying past—is the type of scenario that makes a driver break out into a cold sweat.

Prevention is always better than cure, of course, but much as we’d like to avoid these scenarios, they do occasionally happen. So what can you do if you find yourself in that situation?

Unexpected breakdown

So your vehicle encounters a mechanical failure, or perhaps a tyre blowout has ground your truck to a sudden standstill—what next?

Firstly, if you’re able to, drive the truck to a safer position on the side of the road (the road shoulder is a good spot), as far towards the left as possible. The objective is to move away from lane traffic, and stay clear of any bends or intersections where your truck may obstruct traffic or where view of your truck is obscured. If you’re not able to move your vehicle to a safe location and you’re stuck in a dangerous spot such as a tight bend, call emergency services immediately for help and traffic control.

Tip #1: If you’ve managed to move your truck off-road (even if partially), make sure that the surface can bear the weight of the truck. This is particularly important if a jack will need to be used.

Next, once you’ve pulled to a safe stop, turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers of your predicament. If the situation allows, safely exit the vehicle (exiting on the left side is preferable, especially if you’re parked on the left), wearing a reflective, high-vis vest. Place portable warning triangles behind the truck. You’ll want to stagger the triangles at even distances, creating a wedge that gets wider as it gets closer to the truck. You may also wish to attach electronic flares to the truck to increase visibility.

When placing warning triangles, note that there are slightly different legal requirements in the different states:

Tip #2: If you’re parked on an incline, don’t forget to chock the wheels—you won’t want the truck to roll downhill!

If the goods on board your truck are dangerous or hazardous, be sure to notify other drivers using relevant signage. In such cases, calling emergency services for help and traffic control should be a top consideration.

Now that you’re in a safe position, you may try to assess the damage and make repairs if possible. If not, call roadside assistance immediately and wait for them to arrive. You may also consider having your vehicle towed to a service centre for repairs.

Don’t get stuck in a rut

Of course, it’s always best if we could all avoid being stuck in a roadside breakdown.

It sounds idealistic, but in reality that’s not too hard to achieve. Regular risk assessment during servicing can help to identify risks before they become problems on the road.

A risk assessment process would comprise four stages: (i) risk identification, (ii) risk evaluation, (iii) risk control, and (iv) monitoring and review. After risk identification singles out potential problems, risk evaluation rates the likelihood of an incident occurring from the identified risk and the anticipated consequences. It’s highly recommended that all possible problems are logged in a comprehensive record. After, risk control helps you decide on measures to manage these risks and implement fixes. And with vigilant monitoring and review, chances are you’ll never find you and your truck marooned on a road shoulder.

Be safe, not sorry

Regular check-ups and servicing. Getting on to repairs the moment problems surface. These are the key to making sure your vehicles are in excellent health, which is essential to avoiding roadside breakdowns.

For an easy but reliable servicing option, go back to your truck dealer. Your truck dealer will have servicing and repair options for you, carried out by highly skilled, qualified technicians.

Engaging the services of your truck brand–approved service technician isn’t just a marketing gimmick. What these techs come with is an in-depth knowledge and experience in taking care of your specific truck. Think about it this way—would you rather have a generalist or a specialist look at your specific problem?

Be prepared for rain or shine

But whatever it is, however well looked after your truck is, it only makes sense to be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Just in case, of course.

At all times, your truck should have the following items on board:

  • Reflective safety triangles (a minimum of three is the legal requirement across the nation)
  • Portable emergency lights
  • High-vis reflective vest
  • Dangerous goods signage, if applicable
  • Wheel chocks
  • Charged mobile phone (or a battery pack for your phone)
  • Emergency numbers you may need (roadside assistance, towing services, emergency services etc).

Being prepared and taking preventative measures may seem like a pain, but it can help lessen the likelihood that you’ll find your vehicle broken down—or if you have, you’ll find yourself equipped to handle the situation like a seasoned pro.

If you’re using an Isuzu truck, did you know that Isuzu provides a range of after-sales care services that provide you with a peace of mind?

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