AAA gives tips on what to do when your car breaks down on highway

Posted at 11:40 PM, Dec 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-12-29 23:40:25-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - It was a close call Saturday afternoon for a Virginia state trooper when a pick-up truck ran off the highway and hit his vehicle. 

The trooper pulled over on I-95 south, near mile marker 56, to change his tire.  He dove away from the pickup truck that lost control.   The truck then slammed into his car.

The officer, identified as C. A. Putnam, suffered only minor injuries, but the driver of the pickup truck was taken to VCU Medical Center with serious injuries.

This is not the first time an incident like this happened on this stretch of road in recent memory.  On Father’s Day this year, 35-year-old Steven Ridley was changing a tire on I-95 when a U-Haul hit and killed him.

“Drivers are more distracted today than they have ever been before,” Martha Meade with AAA says.  “So it’s become more dangerous to stop and even try to fix your car on the side of the road.”

That is why Meade is urging drivers to know what to do if their car breaks down or gets a flat.

“If you have a problem, even if it’s a flat tire, it’s better to limp off to the exit, even if you’ve been derimmed, than to risk your life."

If exiting the highway is not an option, Meade says making yourself visible to other drivers is crucial.

“Hopefully you have triangles or flares in your car,” Meade says.  “You can put them as much as 100 feet behind your car.  Turn your flashers on; turn your dome lights on.”

If you need to pull over, AAA says pulling as far over as possible helps make the situation safer.

“Even if you have to drive off into the grass, you want to get as far away from traffic as you possibly can.”

AAA says drivers should take time to prepare themselves by placing cones or flares in their cars just in case.