How to stop safely on a highway
Some 21% of the people who die in European traffic accidents are pedestrians, 3,951 of them in 2020. These deaths occur not only in urban areas, but also on highways when, after an automobile breakdown, the drivers get out of the car to place those emergency warning triangles. It is for this reason that the whole continent now permits the use of the V-16, a kind of siren like the ones the police sometimes use in movies. The idea is that this device be put on the roof of the car, eliminating the need to exit the vehicle, and thus reducing risks. It will become obligatory in 2026, by which time it will carry a geolocation system. Until then, it’s advisable to keep in mind the following precautions so as to be able to stop safely on the highway.
Preventing people from being run over on the road begins long before they take that road. That’s why it is recommended to periodically check the car for problems before setting off. Even so, unforeseen things can happen, and no revision can save us from them.
Should you have a breakdown on the road, the first thing is to find a safe place to stop. Doing it on the shoulder of the highway, on the right hand side, would be ideal, while first making sure there are no curves or hills that might limit the visibility of other drivers. Before totally stopping the vehicle, as we go slower, we should turn on the emergency lights. They are the fastest and safest way of alerting other drivers that something is wrong with your car. You can also add the position lights, especially if the problem occurs at night.
If you still don’t have the siren, before getting out to place the cones, you should put on the reflecting jacket. Then place the pre-signalling warning triangles 50 metres behind the car, and also in front if this is a two-lane highway, and in such a way that they are visible from 100 meters away.
In the case of a breakdown or flat tire, call your road assistance service. The highest incidence of death when being run over is precisely at the moment when the victim is repairing his vehicle. So, even if you know how to do it, this isn’t the proper place.
Wait inside the car with the safety belts fastened or, if possible, beside the road with the other occupants. Avoid leaning against the guardrails, and get fully away from the road, the farther the better.
All this advice can help you to stop safely on the highway. But the two most important measures –checking the car first and having V-16 sirens– begin even before getting on the road, so make sure you do both things before a trip.