Driving through Bellingham on I-5? Know how to stay safe during roadside emergencies

At best, it’s going to make you late, at worst, there’s nothing separating you from cars and semis zinging by so fast your head spins. It can happen to anyone - a roadside emergency. Here are a few tips to help you keep yourself safe.

Turn on your blinkers and emergency lights. When you’re turning a corner or switching lanes, it’s probably second nature to use your turn signal (we hope). But if you’ve got a flat, or any other emergency, using your turn signal might be the furthest thing from your mind. As soon as you can, let other drivers know what you’re doing. Flipping on your hazards allows them to give you a wide berth and adjust their speed as you pull to a stop. Once you’re pulled over, keep your emergency lights on the entire time you’re there with your vehicle.

Exit and enter your vehicle from the side opposite the roadway. Usually this will be the passenger side. Get over as far as you can, at least 1-3 feet away from the traffic lane. Remember, your door will swing closer to the traffic so make sure you’re aware of what’s coming up.

You have an emergency kit for roadside emergencies, right? Good. Every car should have one. In it, you’ll find a handy orange reflective safety cone. That’s to be used during the day. Put it behind your vehicle, near the driver’s side, and this will signal to people that they need to switch lanes because you’ll be vulnerable. At night, use a flare.

Now that your car is ready to go again with your donut in place, you are ready to pull back onto the highway. Collect all your things, including your trash, buckle your seat belt, and prepare to enter the fray again. Turn on your turn signal. Use the shoulder if you have room to accelerate there. If not, take a deep breath, don’t be in a hurry, and wait until it’s safe to jump in.

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