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If you’re a woman driving alone and your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, you might feel nervous. Your unease will likely grow if you discover your cell phone has no service. It’s always better to think ahead about how you might handle these situations before they occur. It’s also important to think about car safety and whether your vehicle is ready to handle a road trip before you head out.

Wondering what else you should keep in mind if you break down in the middle of nowhere? Here are some tips. 

1. Get out of the roadway

A young woman sits at the wheel of a car while holding a cell phone
A young woman sits at the wheel of a car while holding a cell phone | David Hogsholt/Getty Images

First and foremost, if your car breaks down, pull over to the side of the road and put the vehicle’s hazard lights on. That’s the best way to prevent other cars from crashing into you if they don’t see you or can’t stop in time.  

2. Survey your surroundings 

Next, try to determine whether you are near any businesses. Have you seen any signs indicating what’s ahead? Do you recall passing any gas stations that seem safe or any other businesses recently? If you’re close enough to somewhere that might offer help and the area seems safe, place a white rag or T-shirt in the driver’s side window. That signals the car isn’t abandoned.

In addition, one Quora post suggests you put a sign on the dashboard indicating someone will return, lock your car, and walk to a business to call for help.

3. Even if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, call 911

Even if you don’t have cell service in the spot where your car broke down, some cell towers will likely be nearby.  Federal law requires emergency calls to be routed to a 911 call center, so it’s certainly worth trying to dial 911 even if your phone shows no service.

Make the most of your time on the phone with 911, and have all the facts ready. If you get disconnected, dispatchers typically can’t call you back unless you have service. 

4. Politely decline help 

If you’re a woman stuck in the middle of nowhere with no cell service, people will likely offer help. Even if they seem harmless, though, you should politely decline their offer and let them know someone is coming to help you soon.

It’s impossible to know whether a stranger has an ulterior motive or if they can even provide the help you need. Unfortunately, there’s always the chance their intentions might not be good. So don’t take the risk.

5. Be prepared for a breakdown

First and foremost, to avoid getting stuck on the side of the road with no cell service, your best bet is to do the routine maintenance necessary to prevent breakdowns. That includes checking your gas level, tire pressure, and battery charge. It also includes regularly changing your car’s oil, Lifehack explains.

To enhance your safety if your car breaks down, always keep an emergency kit with a blanket, nonperishable snacks, and water in the car so that you aren’t dealing with cold, hunger, or thirst on top of the stress of waiting for help to arrive.  

Hopefully, you’ll never find yourself in such a nerve-wracking situation, but if you do, follow these tips to remain as safe as possible until you receive assistance from a trusted source. 


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