Roadside Safety – Budget Friendly Gear

First on the scene – Think Safety!

Make sure oncoming traffic can see you!               Image result for roadside safety tips

I was on my way to work one foggy morning when something didn’t look normal.  I was driving about 40 mph due to the fog when my peripheral vision on my right side was blocked by something.  I started slowing down and then I noticed debris all over the road and then a drive shaft and part if a rear axle and suspension.  It took a second for all of this to register, but the parts were from a truck that was flipped on its side and sitting on the shoulder of the road.  I pulled over, turned on my hazard lights, grabbed my cell phone (for a flashlight and to call 911) and started walking back towards the truck to offer assistance.  A few other folks stopped to offer assistance, but it was really hard to see since it was dark and foggy.  We tried to slow traffic using our cell phone flash lights, but we were not very effective at slowing traffic through the crash area.  I had my truck stopped past the wreck and on the shoulder of the road, so my hazard lights were not very effective either.  In hind sight, I should have parked upstream of the wreck so oncoming traffic could have seen my hazard lights better.  It was a few minutes before the emergency vehicles arrived.  During this time, there were quite a few vehicles that did not slow down through the wreck area, probably because they could not see the wreck, us or our hazard lights.  It was quite unnerving!  Folks were walking around from side to side of the highway and cars were zooming right through.  The passing vehicles really could not tell what was going until they were right on top of the accident due to the fog and darkness.  A couple of us used our cell phone flash lights to get a few folks to slow down and that helped slow others, but in general, visibility was quite low and the folks trying to help out were in real danger while trying to assist the accident victims.  I left after the ambulance and police arrived and on my way to work I started thinking about how much danger we were in trying to help the accident victims and that I was not properly prepared.  I was not properly prepared mentally on how to best assist while keeping myself and others safe, and I did not posses the basic supplies or gear for this type of situation.  I should have been better prepared for my safety and the safety of others.

Roadside Safety – Lessons Learned

I will use what I learned from the situation that I describe earlier.  It was dark, foggy and I was the first person on the scene of a crash.  What did I do and what should I have done?

First – I parked past the overturned vehicle.  I should have parked between the overturned vehicle and oncoming traffic for better visibility of my hazard lights.  My headlights could have illuminate the crash scene a bit also.

Second – I was wearing dark clothes which made it difficult for oncoming traffic to see me.  I should have had on something bright and reflective.  I recommend a reflective vest since the bright yellow or orange is visible in the daytime and the reflective stripes are visible at night.

Third – I did not have any additional devices to help direct, slow or otherwise help oncoming traffic travel through the area safely.  I should have had flares,triangles or flashing lights to improve visibility to help direct and slow traffic.

 $25 DIY Roadside Visibility Kit

Here is my recommended minimum for a budget friendly Roadside Visibility Kit.  I feel the most important item is the reflective vest.  Even if you have to abandon your vehicle, the reflective vest dramatically improves your visibility to others and it does not require batteries.

HFT 62158 Emergency 39 LED Triangle Worklight
HFT 62158 Emergency 39 LED Triangle Worklight

Roadside Safety, Visibility and Warning Suggestions

Above is what I consider the minimum roadside safety items to improve  visibility and warning to oncoming traffic.  I feel the main thing is to make sure you have a reflective vest and some type of warning device for oncoming traffic.

Roadside Emergency Kits

These are typically a good value, but shop around to find the kit that has what you need.  Here are a few good options.  Make sure to add a reflective vest if the kit does not have one.

Roadside Safety – Stay Alert!

If you find yourself on the roadside with car trouble or helping someone else, please think safety first.

  1. Get your vehicle off the road if possible, otherwise,  park as safely and visibly as you can.
  2. Call 911 for assistance.
  3. Let folks know there is something abnormal happening.
    • Turn your hazard lights on immediately.
  4. Put on your reflective vest.
  5. Grab your flashlight if at night.
  6. Look both ways before exiting vehicle.
    • Do not trust moving traffic.  Stay alert!
  7. Put out flares and/or other warning devices.
    • Even in daylight to let folks know there is something abnormal going on.
      • Give oncoming traffic a long distance to react, set up flares farther away from trouble area versus right at the trouble area.
  8. Get to a safe area.
    • Your vehicle may not be the best place depending on the situation.  Use your best judgement!  Don’t take unnecessary chances with your safety.
  9. Once emergency vehicle(s) arrive and they give the go ahead, then you can change your tire or other required activity.

What to do when your vehicle breaks down?

Budget Friendly Roadside Safety Gear

Roadside safety does not have to be expensive.  I have shown how spending a few dollars can improve your roadside safety.  I purchased reflective vests, flashlights and warning devices for our vehicles as I listed in the $25 DIY Roadside Safety Kit.  The tool does not have to be the absolute best to do the job.  A $7 dollar reflective vest is much better than no reflective vest at all.

I hope that you will buy the necessary roadside safety gear for you and your family.  You never know when you will need it!

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