When our daughter got her license there was a buzz of excitement in the house. She couldn’t wait to take her Jeep out on her own and enjoy her new found freedom. It has been a while since I got my license but I do remember that I wanted to take the car anywhere, just to drive.
She has been a wonderful help to us and I was enjoying how eager she was to go to fulfill my food shopping list, until that afternoon I got the phone call that aged me 10 years.
Leaving for rehearsal for a play she was doing in Summit, she stopped to tell me not to worry she will be home soon. “Mom, I’ll call you when I arrive, I know, don’t use my cell phone while I’m driving and put my seatbelt on.”
A quick kiss on the cheek and she was bouncing out the door with her keys jingling in her hand. Since she was an excellent driver, I had no concerns and went about my business.
When my phone rang, a wave of calm came over me to know that she had arrived safely, until I heard her voice. "Mom, I’m stuck and almost to the shoulder of the road, what do I do?”
After obtaining information from her, I told her to put on her flashers and stay in Jeep. I will call roadside assistance and tell them where she is and they will come and rescue her. I also called the local police and explained that she was a new driver and unaware of what to do in this situation.
She called me back and said that the cars were going around her fast and she decided to get out of the Jeep and stand on the side of the road. Normally this would not concern me except that she had broken down in a wooded area of a two-lane highway. Then she announced a statement that no parent should ever have to hear and I froze in fear.
“Mom, there’s a dark blue car that’s stopping. Oh no, Mom, it’s a tall guy that is walking towards me, what do I do? Help.” Then the phone went dead and my heart sank! Frantically, I called the police back and found out that it was an unmarked police officer that was sent to stay with her until roadside assistance got there. The dispatcher was not happy that she was out of her car, alone and vulnerable.
If you have a new driver in your house, please share this information with them.
If you experience problems with your vehicle:
- Attempt to coast to the shoulder once you’ve determined that it is safe to do so.
- Put your flashers/hazard lights on (know their location on the dahsboard before you drive the vehicle) and STAY IN THE VEHICLE WITH DOORS LOCKED. Sitting in the car is safer than trying to cross lanes of fast moving traffic or standing along, vulnerable on the side of the road.
- Lower the driver’s side window a little and display a white item (napkin, cloth, shirt, etc) this will notify other drivers that your vehicle is disabled.
- This is the time to use your cell phone to call for road side assistance. Notify the local police department that your vehicle is disabled and where you are located. Let them know if you are on a curve or alone in your car. Ask if they are sending a patrol car to assist.
- If you are unsure who is approaching your vehicle to offer assistance, ask to see a badge or identification before you unlock your door. Do not get out until you see proper documentation or can verify who they are.
We are thankful that this unfortunate situation turned out to be a positive learning experience and wanted to share these safety tips. As for me, let’s just say now I have a reason for my grey hair!