pull over on the side of the highway

10 Safety Tips If You Have to Pull Over on The Side of The Highway

As great of an innovation that cars are, it is inevitable that numerous people suffer from car troubles every day. Especially when this happens on a highway, the steps to take to ensure your safety and the safety of others are extremely important. It is always a good idea to have a plan before you pull over on the side of a highway.

There are a few set rules to follow if you have to pull over on the side of the highway. Keeping yourself, your passengers, and other people on the road safe is of the highest importance in the case of pulling over on a highway.

In this article, you will learn ten safety tips if you have to pull over on the side of the highway. Roadside safety is manageable if you know how to go about it properly. If not, however, you can put yourself and others in jeopardy. Keep reading for ten safety tips to follow in case you find yourself on the sign of the road.

Is It Safe to Pull Over on The Side of a Highway?

The short answer is yes, under some conditions. You must educate yourself on the things to do before you pull over on the side of the highway.

It is possible to do so safely, but if you do not know how to go about the situation, you might not cover all of the necessary precautions to avoid more trouble than you are already in.

(What if your car breaks down on the side of the road? Follow that article to find out what to do when you are just on a regular road.)

What Side of the Road Are You Supposed to Pull Over On?

Typically, the safest side of the road to pull over on the side of the highway is the right side. On the right shoulder of the highway, you will have more space to get away from traffic if you encounter car troubles.

Pulling to the left side of the highway is not a good idea because you are putting yourself between two opposing sides of traffic; even if there is a median separating them, this can still be much more dangerous.

Below is a table showing the different safety factors that make pulling over to the right side of the highway more advantageous than the left.

Right Side Left Side
Much more room to get away from traffic. Even if you want to get as far away as possible, there will typically be flat grass off of the shoulder that you can drive onto. Putting yourself between two opposite lanes of traffic can be very dangerous.
Getting as far away from highway traffic as possible decreases the chance of other problems to occur. There is usually much less space on the left side of a highway to pull off on.
Barriers might prevent you from pulling over on the left side at all.

How to Get Help If You Have Car Trouble and Pullover on the Side of the Highway?

If you decide that it might be a good idea to call for help, your best bet is with Mach 1 Roadside Assistance. With the ease of downloading an app and asking for roadside service, Mach 1 will immediately dispatch the nearest available service provider in your region to help you. You can choose from many different services, and Mach 1 professionals will have your back.

With some roadside assistance companies today, you might be faced with extremely high prices and very long wait times if you are stuck on the side of the road. Mach 1 prides itself on offering low prices, quick response time, and great results.

10 Safety Tips If You Have To Pull over On The Side Of The Highway

When you know exactly what to do, you can better keep yourself and others safe. If you have to pull over on the side of the highway, these ten steps will guide you through a process that will make sure you decrease any chance of further problems with your car or with others on the highway.

pull over on the side of the highway- infofraphicDo Not Panic

One of the worst things you can do when you need to pull over on the side of the highways is panic. Losing your cool can cause you to make rash decisions and put yourself and others in danger.

If you encounter a problem with your car that requires you to pull off of the highway, you must make sure that you stay calm and focus on the steps to take to stay safe.

Think About the Problem

If something goes wrong with your car – the engine light turns on, you hear an unusual noise, etc. – the first thing you should do is recognize that there is a problem and consider whether or not you know what it is.

Of course, you do not want to think too much about it before you pull off of the highway, but recognizing that a problem is present is important to remaining calm.

Do Not Rush Yourself

If you panic when you need to pull off of the highway, you might accidentally make unnecessarily sudden and dangerous movements, disrupting traffic and putting yourself and others in danger.

Make Sure Your Hazards Are On

After your initial realization that there is a problem with your car, you then need to alert other drivers that something might be wrong. Turn your hazards on to let people know that there is a problem so that you can more easily begin pulling off of the highway.

Even after you pull off of the road, it might be a good idea to keep your hazard lights on, especially at night, or if you are not able to pull as far from the highway as you would like. It is essential that others are aware of your presence and know that something is wrong.

This is important, particularly in the case of nighttime and being close to the highway, because if large cars or semi-trucks are passing by, they might choose to switch lanes to give you space and avoid danger.

Stay Aware of Your Surroundings

Even after you have turned your hazards on, other drivers might not have seen them yet or might not have had time to get out of your way. Thus, if you flip your hazards on and try to immediately ease off of the highway, other cars might still be in your way. This can cause danger to you and other drivers.

Other drivers are not the only thing you have to worry about before you pull off the highway. Below are a few other things to keep in mind if you need to pull over.

Weather conditions In the rain, snow, and other hazardous weather conditions, it can be even tougher to pull over on the highway. With traffic traveling at high speeds, this can be especially dangerous. Make sure you are aware of anything that might make the road slippery or otherwise dangerous.
Road conditions On top of climate that can affect the road, you need to look out for objects or debris that might be on the side of the road where you are looking to pull over. Remnants of a blown tire or many rocks on the shoulder of a highway can damage the undercarriage of your car as well as other peoples’ cars.
Space on the side of the highway Another thing you should look at is the terrain on which you are looking to pull over. Obviously, you can not pull over in places like construction zones or an area overgrown with trees that prevent you from getting off the road. Pull over in an area where you are positive that your car will be safely and completely removed from the highway.

Pull Off of The Road Safely

Once you are familiar with your surroundings, have warned others that your car is having a problem, and know that you are ready to pull over, you can begin the process of getting your car off of the highway.

First, do not brake forcefully while you are still in a highway lane. That can cause danger to many other cars on the road. Rather, slowly begin to brake as you gradually drift off of the highway and onto the shoulder.

Since you are on a highway, you are likely going to be driving at a high speed. Therefore, it is important to brake slowly, keep your hands steady on the wheel, and carefully tilt your wheel towards the shoulder of the highway. After your car has completely left the farthest right lane of the highway, the coast at a steadily decreasing speed, and come to a safe, complete stop.

Get as Far Away From the Highway as Possible

With your surroundings permitting, you should get as far away from the road as possible. In the case of an extreme emergency, you might not have a choice as to exactly where you would like to pull over on the side of the highway.

If you can, however, you should choose an area with a lot of room. The shoulder on the highway is large enough to fit your vehicle, but if there is something like a patch of flat grass even farther to the right, it might be a good idea to pull over even more.

Getting as far away from the highway as possible is essential to avoid as many problems as possible. Doing so will give you plenty of space between yourself and the traffic continually driving along the highway.

Stay in Your Car If You Can

Whether it be because you have still not quite figured out the problem, you know the problem, and it is an easy fix from the driver’s seat, or you need to call someone and wait for help, it is extremely important that you stay in your car.

Unless you know exactly how to fix the problem and need to do so by getting out, you will be most protected from a chance of danger inside your car as opposed to outside of it.

In the case that you do get out of your car, be even more cautious. If you can, stay on the side of your car opposite the direction of the highway. If you do need to go around to the other side, you will be safer if you have pulled as far away from the highway as possible.

Keep Emergency Devices in Your Car If You Do Have to Get Out Of Your Car

Another thing to consider if you do have to get out of your car is taking further measures to ensure that other drivers are aware of your presence on the side of the road. Hazard lights catch many people’s attention, but it does not hurt to take it one step further. A roadside safety kit is always a good idea to have on hand.

A Flag

If you have a flag – or something similar to a flag, like a t-shirt – you can tie it onto the left side of your car to more easily alert others that you are pulled over. Sometimes, people tie white flags to their cars to ask for help or alert passing police cars, but this is not always the case.


If you happen to have traffic cones in your vehicle, putting them around your vehicle gives you more protective space from passing cars on the highway. Especially at night, when many traffic cones have reflective strips, cars will more easily see your vehicle pulled over.

Bright Colors

If you do not have flags or traffic cones, you can use any bright object you might have in your car to more clearly let people know you are pulled over. A bright object is likely to catch a driver’s attention and alert them to keep their distance from the side of the road.

Call for Help

As much as you might like to fix the problem yourself and continue on your way to your destination, a serious problem can take a professional skill to fix. Sometimes, you might even need to have your car towed if the problem makes your car dangerous to drive.

If you do not really know what the problem is or how to fix it, do not hesitate to call a professional. Services like Mach 1 Roadside Assistance have the professionals needed to fix a number of problems you may face with your vehicle.

Keep In Mind That You Are Still Near A Highway

Safety is the key here. Even if you have taken all precautions after pulling over on the highway, there is still a chance of traffic causing problems.

Maybe it does not even involve you. Maybe a car accident occurs near your parked vehicle. If this happens, debris can fly off in all different directions and put you in danger.

Of course, instances like these are not extremely likely, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Keep in mind that after you pull over on the side of the highway, you are still comparatively close to the hustle and bustle of traffic that comes and goes.

Keep Others in Your Vehicle Safe

If you have passengers in your vehicle, their safety is just as important as yours. If the problem with your car is going to take more than one person, the chances are that you are going to need to call a professional anyway.

If the weather is an issue, make sure everyone stays in the car and doesn’t try to get out and help. If the weather allows, and there’s a safe area within walking distance that can be reached without walking along the side of the highway, passengers are safer waiting there.


As you can see, there are many things to keep in mind if you have to pull over on the side of the highway. However, these safety tips are simple and easy to follow. Following these steps with ease will put you in much less danger than if you try to do your own thing.

Panic, further problems, and other things can occur if you do not keep safety a priority when pulling over on the side of the highway.