When I was a college student, I was traveling home on a rural road late at night when noticed I was quickly approaching a very slow-moving car from behind. It seemed to be lost or having mechanical issues. I slowed down, but before I knew what happened, the other car came to a screeching stop and I rear-ended it. I was shaken up but relieved it was only a fender bender. Then the doors opened and two men got out and headed towards my car. The relief was instantly gone and I was terrified and alone.
I’m a mother now, much wiser, and usually in bed before 11:00! But I still drive alone every day and have a son and two daughters that do too. So, I wanted to survey our auto insurance claims team here at NNINS to find out the smartest advice for these types of situations. After all, we've got decades of experience helping members through tough roadside issues.
Here are our 3 simple rules:
1. Your cell phone is your best friend.
So, keep it charged! If it desperately needs a charge, you still should be able to use the car’s battery to make an emergency call, even if your car won’t start. Just turn your key to the 2nd or 3rd ignition position. There are also some really good backup batteries available to keep with you. If you can’t get a signal, pretend to be talking to someone if a stranger stops.
- The blue pin icon marks your location (you must have location turned on in your phone's settings)
- Tap the blue pin and tap "share your location".
- Choose how to share via text or email.
2. Never accept unofficial help.
No matter how kind or harmless a “good Samaritan” seems, our times call for caution. Don’t roll down your window or get out of the car. The ONLY help you should accept from them is a phone call to 911. Crack your window and ask for them to call. Don’t leave the safety of your car until an emergency responder or your roadside assistance arrives.
3. Don’t assume an unmarked car with a flashing light is a police officer.
Recently, women in Augusta County have been pulled over by a man impersonating a police officer. If you get pulled over by an unmarked police car, Goochland County Sheriff's office recommends the following:
Slowly & Safely Pull Over
Use the turn signal and proceed to a safe location along the right side of the road. If the location appears unsafe or dangerous, continue driving until you find a safe, well-lit place to stop. You can turn on your hazard lights to indicate you see the officer. If it's clear that you intend to pull over, most officers will understand.
If the officer is driving an unmarked vehicle. You can call 911 to verify that the unmarked vehicle pulling you over is an on-duty officer. Or, ask to see the officer's badge and photo ID. If the officer won't present it, request to call for another officer. Always call 911 if the situation appears to be threatening or unsafe. Officers will never give you the option of paying the ticket on the side of the road.
Follow the Officer's Instructions
Roll down the window and place both hands on the wheel. Do exactly what the officer asks, including providing your license and registration once requested. Alert the officer before reaching into the backseat, the glove compartment, or into a purse or other bag.
Talk to the officer in a calm manner.
Return to the Road Safely
Once the officer has instructed that you are free to leave, use your turn signal and look for oncoming traffic. Merge slowly onto the road when it’s safe. Remember to buckle up.
Practice these 3 smart rules, but also try to prevent roadside emergencies with our expert safe driving tips and you’ll be set! If you get stranded with little ones, check out our blog post on how to keep your kids safe. And don't forget all our auto insurance policies have 24-7 Roadside Assistance: 1-800-913-8847.
I wish I could tell my younger self what I know now. Thankfully, that night long ago, I was smart enough to exchange insurance information with other driver through a slightly cracked window and was able to drive my car away from the accident. But if you aren’t so lucky and find yourself alone on the side of Virginia roads, follow our 3 safety rules so you too can stay safe and sound.