If you do break down and need to get a tow there are some simple tips to make the experience more pleasurable.
1. Get safe. Try to get off the road as far as possible. Put your hazard lights on. Don’t leave doors etc open. Either sit in the car with doors closed or sit a safe distance away out of the way of traffic. Do not sit beside or under the car. If you are a woman alone you may choose to lock yourself in the car.
2. Assess the situation. Take some notes. What did you hear, what did you smell, was there smoke or steam or can you see fluids on the road behind you, did the car handle differently? Have a look. Walk around and see what has changed. Are the wheels loose or wonky? Is there oil anywhere? Are there any bits hanging off?
3. Where are you? Is there a street sign? Is there a landmark? Can google maps on your phone tell you?
4. Your phone is your friend. Take photos. Voice record or type up your notes. Do you have phone service? How much battery is left?
5. Call for help. I love my RACQ membership. Join your roadside assistance equivalent. If you aren’t a member call them anyway. It will cost you more than a member but it will be worth it. Tell them about the situation. The notes of the incident that I talked about in point 2. Tell them who is in the car - kids and pets. If you are a woman traveling alone or if you weren’t able to get the vehicle to a safe spot off the road tell them so they can make you a priority.
6. Do not leave the vehicle. If you have children or pets make sure they are cool, comfortable and safe from passing traffic. Find a shady tree or chill in the car. Keep your keys and valuables on you.
7. While I wait for the tilt tray tow truck I like to take photos and post them to social media. In particular I take photos of anyone who stops to help me. This is mostly so if something happens there is a record or who and when.
8. If for any reason you leave the vehicle tell someone. Leave a note with the car with the time of your departure, the destination, the mode of transport (walk, lift with passerby etc), when you expect to return and how to contact you.
9. When the tilt tray arrives introduce yourself. Explain what happened using your notes from point 2. Take your handbag or essential / valuable items out of the car. Leave all other luggage in the car. Give the tilt tray driver your keys. Then stay out of the way while they load the car. Often they will be happy for you to sit in the air conditioned cab of the truck while they load the car. The driver is a trained professional and the most useful thing you can do is to get out of their way. So stay out of their way and make their job easier by keeping pets and children out of their way too.
These are some simple practical tips but of course every situation will be different so please use common sense and stay safe.