The most important thing to do if you get a flat tire on the highway is to get yourself, your passengers and your vehicle safely out of and away from traffic. Slow down, but do not stop in traffic. Carefully steer your vehicle to the shoulder, or even better, off the freeway and onto a breakdown lane or exit.
Getting your vehicle safely off the road if you get a flat tire on the highway is crucial to keeping both you and other drivers safe. These situations can be very dangerous. Getting your car safely away from the travel lane is also required by law.
Michigan law prohibits drivers from blocking, obstructing, impeding or otherwise interfering “with the normal flow of vehicular . . . traffic upon a . . . highway in this state.” (MCL 257.676b(1)) Meanwhile, under the so-called “If you can steer it, clear it” law, the driver of a vehicle that has been involved in an accident must “remove the motor vehicle from the main traveled portion of the roadway into a safe refuge on the shoulder, emergency lane, or median or to a place otherwise removed from the roadway if” the vehicle is operable enough to be “done safely.” (MCL 257.618a(1))
What to do when you get a flat tire on the highway
Follow these safety tips for what to do when you get a flat tire on the highway:
- Do not panic
Easier said than done, I know. A tire blowout on the freeway can be very scary. But panicking has never helped to improve a situation. Keep a calm head and apply these tips below.
- Grip the steering wheel firmly
Grip the steering wheel firmly as soon as you realize that you have a blowout.
- Slow your car down gradually
Slow your car down gradually by taking your foot off the accelerator. DO NOT slam on your brakes.
- Do not stop in traffic – especially on a freeway.
It is better to roll your vehicle off the roadway than it is to stop in traffic and risk a rear-end car accident or side collision with other cars.
- Move to safe ground
Drive to a traffic-free area such as the shoulder, a breakdown lane, or preferably, to an exit (Driving a short distance on a flat tire on the highway to a very safe, traffic-free area is fine as long as you avoid sudden or jerky movements, hard braking, etc. This can also quite literally save your life.
- If you must change lanes, do so carefully
Make sure to check your mirrors and use your turn signal when changing lanes.
- Remember, a road shoulder is not a safe place
It is just a safer place than stopping in the roadway. Especially at night, parking your car on the shoulder can still be very dangerous for oncoming freeway traffic, something human factors experts call the Moth effect. Try to get your car completely off the roadway and shoulder if it is possible and safe for you to do so.
What to do after you get a flat tire on the highway
Here are safety tips for what to do after you get a flat tire on the highway:
- Turn on your emergency flashers so other drivers can see you and so they realize there is a problem with your vehicle
- Put out reflectorized warning triangles behind your vehicle to alert other drivers that your vehicle is disabled and non-functioning
- Raise your hood and hang something white out your window so that the police and/or tow trucker operators and/or roadside personnel will know that you are in need of help
- Do not stand behind, next to or directly in front of your car – Either stand away from your vehicle or remain inside if it is unsafe to exit your vehicle
- Change your tire ONLY if you know how to change a tire, have the proper equipment, you are away from the traffic and can do so safely do so without placing yourself in danger (now is not the time to be a hero nor would it be a “good learning opportunity”)
What to do when someone else has a tire blowout on the freeway
Slowing down and driving at a safe speed and distance are two of the most important things you need to do when someone else gets a flat tire on the highway. All drivers must drive “at a careful and prudent speed” that “is reasonable and proper” under the conditions. The other thing you should do is call for help. Remember, it is not an excuse for you if you negligently rear-end a car in front of you that stops, even suddenly, as you are presumed to keep an assured clear distance with traffic ahead of you.
Injured in a car accident after a tire blowout on the freeway? Call the auto attorneys at Michigan Auto Law
If you were injured after getting a flat tire on the highway and have questions about your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages and No-Fault benefits, you can speak to an experienced car accident lawyer at (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation. You can also get help from an experienced accident attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.
(Source: The National Safety Council)