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The "Unexpected" Guide

When something goes wrong with your vehicle it can be a frustrating and sometimes costly experience.

As an RACQ member with roadside assistance, Australia wide, you can get RACQ to come to your rescue anytime, anywhere in Australia by phoning us on 13 1111.

Before we get there a few things you can do to ensure the safety of yourself and others include:

  1. Firstly, remember to not panic and concentrate on slowly driving your vehicle to a safe location

    • If you can’t do this, activate your hazard lights so approaching motorists can identify that your vehicle is stationary and avoid colliding with your vehicle

  2. DO NOT try and push the car to the side of the road if you are on your own

    • This is because the vehicle may become uncontrollable

  3. Only attempt to carry out repairs (such as a flat tyre) if you feel confident that you know what to do and it is safe to do so where you are

  4. Try to identify your current location if you are in an unfamiliar area

    •  Knowing your nearest cross road as well as landmarks will greatly assist someone to reach you quickly

  5. While waiting for help you should remain near your vehicle

    • DO NOT stand on the road next to or behind vehicle as passing motorists may not be able to see you

  6. If it is a dark or dangerous situation, or you feel unsafe in your location, you should remain inside the vehicle with the doors locked until help can arrive

  7. Remember to keep yourself protected from the elements

    • This means keeping yourself as cool and hydrated as possible in hot weather and warm and dry in cold or rainy weather

  • You may need to secure the vehicle and walk to a nearby business to phone for assistance.

  • Only flag down a passing motorist as a last resort, as you may be compromising your safety

  • If you feel it is unsafe for you to walk to a telephone, remain in your vehicle with the doors locked until you feel it is safe to proceed

  • If someone approaches your vehicle to offer assistance DO NOT wind your window down:

    • Only roll your window down enough to ask if they can contact RACQ, family or the police. It is safer for you to remain in the vehicle

    • If you have advised them that help is already on the way and the person is continuing to present a threat, sound your horn repeatedly to alert other people you are in danger.

  • If you are broken down on a freeway or motorway you should try and make it across to the far left hand lane

  • If you cannot make it across safely then you will need to turn on your hazard lights and stay in your current lane

  • If you are not in the far left hand lane, do not get out of your vehicle as it may not be safe to do so

  • When stationary call the TMR Traffic Report Line on 13 19 40 or contact RACQ on 13 11 11 and they will provide assistance

RACQ provides towing services on behalf of the Queensland Government to quickly remove non-driveable vehicles off freeways, motorways and major roads to a pre-determined drop off location. This service is free of charge.  If you have roadside assistance with RACQ you will then be able to arrange towing to your chosen location.

Sometimes a flat or burst tyre may not be as obvious as a thump-thump-thump noise. If your vehicle is pulling strongly to the left or right it can also be an indication that one of your tyres is deflated. If you suspect that you have a flat tyre:

  1. Hold the steering wheel firmly

    • A burst / flat front tyre will likely cause the vehicle to pull hard to the side that is damaged

  2. Try not to hit the brakes suddenly

  3. Make sure you choose a safe location to pull over

    • It is better to drive slowly on a flat for a short distance (under 1km is best), rather than risk an accident or injury to yourself and others by stopping suddenly in an unsafe location

  4. When you are safely off the road, brake gently to stop the vehicle, apply the handbrake, place the car into park (if automatic) or in gear (if manual) and activate your hazard lights

  5. If you do not feel confident in changing a tyre yourself, you can call the RACQ

    • They will come and change it for you. If you do not have a roadworthy spare RACQ will tow the vehicle

  6. Lastly, ensure you purchase a new spare tyre as soon as possible

    • Otherwise you may not be prepared in the event you get another flat.  A ‘space-saver’ wheel is only designed to be used as a temporary tyre and should not be driven on for long periods of time

Refilling your tank whenever it drops below a ¼ full is a good way of ensuring that you won’t run out of fuel, even if your fuel gauge is slightly inaccurate.

  • If you do run out of fuel, RACQ can supply you 5 litres of fuel at your expense to help get you to a nearby service station.

  • RACQ Members who hold a Plus Care, Ultra Care or RACQ Ultimate product can access an annual free fuel entitlement.

  • Call RACQ immediately on 13 1111 if a child or animal is locked inside the vehicle - patrol officers will be dispatched with the highest priority to unlock the vehicle for you

  • DO NOT smash a window to gain access to the vehicle:

    • You risk causing yourself or your passenger’s injury as well as a hefty repair bill.

    • RACQ patrol officers have specialist skills in gaining access to locked vehicles and usually without causing damage to your vehicle

  • If you have lost or damaged your only vehicle key, you will require the services of a professional locksmith to cut you a new key

  • RACQ members who hold upgrades to Plus Care, Ultra Care or RACQ Ultimate can access an annual entitlement towards the cost of locksmith services

Motor vehicle crashes are an unfortunate yet common occurrence.  There are several things you should do after a crash, including legal obligations:

  1. Activate your hazard lights

  2. If the crashed vehicles are not obstructing the flow of traffic, they should remain in position until police arrive

    • If the vehicles are causing an obstruction the point of impact should be mutually agreed upon by both parties involved and marked on the roadway (use chalk if possible) before moving vehicles out of the way)

  3. Check that you or anyone else in the area has not been injured and call 000 if there are

    • DO NOT attempt to move an injured person from a vehicle

  4. You must supply your details (see below) to any other drivers involved in the crash

  5. Collect the other drivers details

  6. You should also provide and collect these details from any pedestrian/s that were injured or owners of property that was damaged

  7. Important:  You should take care to not make any statements after the crash such as admitting liability or apologising in any way

  8. You should write down the details of how the crash happened and contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the incident

You must report the crash to the police if:

  • Any person involved is killed or injured

  • A vehicle involved needs to be towed away

  • Any driver involved in the crash does not give his/her details to any other drivers involved in the crash

  • The crash causes at least $2,500 damage to property, other than the vehicle involved in the crash

Details you should provide to other parties and collect in return are:

  • Full name

  • Residential address

  • Telephone number/s

  • Drivers Licence number (not obligatory, but recommended)

  • Vehicle insurer and level of cover (not obligatory, but recommended)

Information you should note to provide with your insurance claim:

  • Date and time of crash

  • Location (street, suburb/town, nearest cross street)

  • If your vehicle had to be towed the Towing Operator’s name and address

  • Roadway/weather conditions at time of the crash, including estimated speed at the time

  • A rough drawing of the roadway and position of vehicles and/or persons involved, marking things like traffic lights, traffic signs and road markings

  • Details of any independent witnesses and their location at the time of crash

  • If the incident has been reported to police, their name, rank and station, as well as police report number if provided

A vehicle fire can be a frightening experience. If this happens to you, you should:

  1. Move off the main road and stop immediately

    • Fire feeds off oxygen so even driving slowly can force air into the engine compartment thereby fuelling the fire

  2. Turn off the ignition and get yourself and others out of the vehicle

  3. Move everyone away from the vehicle

    • If the fire reaches the fuel tank this can cause an explosion, also some vehicle materials when burning will produce toxic gases which are harmful to breathe in

  4. Phone 000 for emergency assistance - DO NOT attempt to put out the fire yourself

  5. Warn approaching traffic by shouting and waving your arms if necessary

    • However DON’T place yourself in a dangerous situation

  6. Notify your insurance company as soon as possible

Some roads have signs that warn of particular wild animals that frequently cross the road and you should be more alert and cautious on these roads.

However sometimes you cannot avoid hitting an animal. Here are a few sensible actions that you can follow:

  1. Don’t blast your horn at the animal as this may frighten them causing further erratic behaviour

  2. If an animal appears suddenly in front of your vehicle you are better to brake in a straight line

    • Even if it means colliding with the animal, braking and swerving may cause your vehicle to rollover or hit another vehicle or object

  3. If you do hit the animal pull your vehicle over to a safe spot so that you can check if it is still alive

    • Don’t stop suddenly in the middle of the road or an unsafe location

  4. Be cautious when approaching the animal, it may become frightened and scratch, bite or kick you

  5. Contact the RSPCA on 1300 ANIMAL (1800 264 625) ASAP

    • In the meantime try to keep the animal warm and in a quiet and dark spot

    • You should not feed the animal but if it will accept it you can offer water to drink

  6. If the animal has died, move it off the road if you can and wait for RSPCA to arrive

Windscreens that are severely damaged not only obscure the driver’s vision but can also weaken the vehicle’s structure and affect the way airbags deploy.

  • You should not drive your vehicle in this situation and you may be risking crashing and/or injuring yourself and others.
  • When your windscreen is severely damaged you will need to arrange a replacement.

Realising while driving that your brakes have failed is a scary situation, so to stop a car in this situation you can try the following:

  1. Change to lower gears to use the engine’s braking to help slow the vehicle and pump your brake

    • This may build up enough pressure in the brake system to allow you to stop

  2. Attempt to use your handbrake to stop

    • It will take a little time to work and should be applied VERY slowly.

  3. As a last resort you can scrape something like a barrier or rail to create friction which will naturally slow the car

Sometimes rain can be so heavy that it obstructs your vision very quickly. The most important thing to do when driving in the rain is to slow down and double your normal following distance to at least 4 seconds.

  • You can check your distance by noting the car in front passing an object before counting one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three, and one-thousand-four. If you have passed the object yourself before you finish counting, you are too close and you need to slow down

  • If on a multi-lane road keep towards the inner lanes - In heavy rain the gutters of the outer lanes may overflow

  • If on a single lane road, keep the vehicle close to the centre line marking without crossing it

  • Warning - If you are travelling behind larger vehicles like trucks or buses they will create a larger spray of water onto your windscreen that will affect your visibility, slow down further if this occurs

  • Turn your headlights on - if the rain conditions are hazardous with reduced visibility you can use your fog lights if installed

  • Turn off your radio - it is important to heighten your awareness of the road and reduce your distractions

Never attempt to cross a flooded road:

  • Not only are you placing yourself in danger but also the lives of those who may need to come to your rescue
  • While it may appear the road is only just under water the road surface underneath may have washed away creating a dangerous situation for a vehicle attempting to drive across

If you have entered a flooded section of road and your vehicle cannot exit, remain calm and call 000 so emergency assistance can be sent to you.

While storms can cause your vehicle damage, ensuring the safety of yourself and others is the most important thing to do before getting your vehicle to a safe location:

  • If hail or lightning is presenting danger look for an undercover or sheltered car park or a safe spot such as under a bridge / overpass
  • Avoid parking under trees or power lines, these may come down and cause injury or death
  • The safest place to be is inside the car:
    • With lightning, the car will provide better insulation from strikes than being out in the open
    • With hail, the car will provide safe shelter from the icy projectiles
  • Turn off your radio - it is important to heighten your awareness of the road and reduce your distractions
  • Your windscreen is designed to take harder hits than your side windows so if you cannot avoid hail park so that the hail is hitting the windscreen

Driving in fog can be one of the most dangerous weather conditions, so if you can’t delay your journey until the fog lifts, you can keep safe by:

  • If your vehicle has fog lights fitted, activate these. If you don’t have fog lights you can use your low-beam lights instead.

    • While high-beam lights seem a better choice they actually reflect more of the light back at you.

    • Low-beams will direct light low onto the road in front of you and help other drivers to see you

  • Activate your demisters and windscreen wipers to keep your windows as clear as possible

  • Turn off your radio; your vision of the road is impaired so roll down the window to listen for traffic and other important noises

  • Like driving in heavy rain, double your following distance of the car in front of you to at least 4 seconds

  • Remember that other motorists may not be able to see you are braking or indicating until they are quite close to you, so be sure to give extra warning time when slowing or turning

  • If you feel the fog is becoming too heavy to travel safely exit to a safe location & wait for the fog to lift