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North Carolina Disabled Vehicle Safety Tips


Flat tire, faulty battery, electrical problems – there are many reasons you may find yourself stranded with a disabled vehicle and hopefully you are able to get yourself to a safe location off the road when or if this should happen. Unfortunately, this is not always possible and recent scenarios have led to several deaths in North Carolina.

Though these situations often can’t be avoided, you can control the way that you react to them. Here are some of our best safety tips for avoiding an accident when dealing with a disabled vehicle – whether you are the one dealing directly with a disabled vehicle, or are a driver on the road who comes across a disabled vehicle. 

If Your Car Becomes Disabled

Perhaps the more nerve wracking position you might find yourself in is having a disabled car.  This is a stressful event. Not only are you most likely facing hefty bills related to towing and fixing your vehicle, but you are placed in a very dangerous situation. After working with many disabled car and pedestrian related traffic accidents, we recommend a few precautionary safety measures to help keep you safe on the side of the road: 

  • Pull off of the road as far as possible; ideally you should be as far away from the   right lane of traffic as possible
  • Turn your hazard lights on as soon as you become aware that your vehicle is disabled and leave them on for the duration of the situation
  • Safely  leave your vehicle and then move as far away from the road as possible. If it is unsafe to leave your vehicle, remain and call 911
  • Call someone for help right away

Once you’ve taken these precautionary steps, decide what to do with your disabled vehicle. North Carolina law states that you cannot leave your car on the side of the road unless it can’t be driven; in that case, make sure it’s visible to drivers at least 200 feet away.

If You Happen Upon A Disabled Vehicle

The unfortunate thing about breakdowns is that they are never convenient and rarely occur in a safe situation. Anytime you are behind the wheel, it is always best practice to drive defensively. This means to always be free of distractions, aware of your surroundings and stay alert.  Emergency stops are never planned and quick decision making could save a life. 

For example, say you are driving down a curvy road and a car ahead is partially pulled over, with its flashers on – if you don’t see it until the last minute, a snap decision will have to be made on whether or not to swerve or try to stop to avoid hitting the vehicle. Being aware of your surroundings and following defensive driving techniques will help you avoid a collision or at least, minimize an impact. 

On the other hand, you may be able to see several hundred feet away that there’s a disabled vehicle, but the flow of traffic has you trapped in the right lane. As a driver passing a disabled vehicle, there are a few things you’re required to do by law:

  • North Carolina’s Move Over Law dictates that you switch lanes to allow the disabled vehicle more room if possible
  • If you cannot switch lanes due to traffic, considerably reduce your speed to ensure the safety of yourself and those in the disabled vehicle
  • Should you fail to comply with this law, you’re subject to a $250 fine

Though the fine imposed by the state for failure to comply with the Move Over Law might be steep for you, it’s nothing compared with the toll you’ll experience should you get into an accident with a disabled vehicle.

If you decide to pull over to offer assistance to the disabled vehicle, pull over so that the disabled vehicle is between you and oncoming traffic, and get as far away from the road as possible.  Put on your emergency flashers.

In North Carolina alone, between the years of 2007 and 2016, 420 different crashes involving disabled vehicles occurred. Within those crashes, there were several hundred injuries and nearly 70 fatalities.

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, the unthinkable still happens. If you’ve found yourself in the position of dealing with the aftermath of a disabled vehicle incident, visit the legal team of Glenn, Mills, Fisher and Mahoney online or call (919) 683-2135 to see how we can help improve your situation.