It can happen to anyone. Chances are, at some point in your life it will happen to you too. You are driving down the road and the car will begin to sputter. You get a sinking feeling as you realize you forgot to put more gas in the tank.
Depending on where this happens, you may be inclined to try a number of strategies to get to a gas station. Coasting or pushing your vehicle to a station might seem practical. However, both of these can be very dangerous as controlling the vehicle when the engine is not running is much more difficult. The best thing to do in this situation is pull over and park your vehicle with the hazard lights on. (Photo Doublej11, Flickr)
If you are on the highway or the interstate, you will want to pull over as far to the right as possible. Never stop on the left shoulder of the road, even if you are on a divided highway. Even though you already have your hazard lights flashing, you should make sure you are especially visible at night. You can do this by turning on your dome light, attaching a makeshift flag to your antenna and opening your car’s hood. Other items that are useful to carry in your trunk for just such a situation include reflective triangles or road flares. In case you do not have a phone with you, a HELP sign is also a good thing to keep in your trunk. (Photo Redi-medic, Flickr)
Be very careful when you are parked at the side of the road. If possible, always exit from the passenger side of the vehicle. Roadside accidents have killed so many people over the years that the government has enforced laws for police officers and road workers. The shoulder of any road can be dangerous. This is especially true for an interstate where the cars are moving in excess of 60mph. In fact, according to ResponderSafety.com, an average of two emergency responders is struck each day nationwide. (Photo Kradlum , Flickr)
If you have a cell phone, call someone for help. This may be a service like AAA, a friend or a relative. Even if someone stops and offers assistance, it may be better to wait for the person that you called. While there are many good Samaritans out there, it is better to be safe than sorry.
If you do not have a working cell phone, you can either ask a passing motorist to borrow their phone to make a call, or you can begin walking in the direction of the nearest gas station. Depending on the situation, walking can be dangerous, but may bebetter than sitting in the vehicle and waiting for a stranger to stop and help. Motorists that see a stalled car with someone just sitting inside are likely to assume that the person has everything under control and is just waiting for their assistance. If intervention from a passer-by is your only option, then you will want to make it clear that you still need help so that someone will stop. A sign with the words “Out of Gas” can be helpful.
When you reach the gas station, make sure that you are putting gasoline in an appropriate container. Most gas stations either have them for sale or to borrow if you leave a deposit. Do not try to save a few dollars by using something other than an approved container to carry the gasoline for your vehicle. Gasoline reacts with different materials. Using an unapproved container could cause serious injury or even a fire.
Pour the gasoline into your tank carefully. If it spills on the ground or splashes down the side of the vehicle, you could end up running out of gasoline again before you make it to the gas station to fill up. Spilled gasoline can also be a fire hazard as it is highly flammable.
Once you have put the gasoline in your tank, you should check your owner’s manual for information about restarting your vehicle after running out of gas. Many newer cars have a reset button on the fuel injection system that must be pushed before the car will restart.
Once you are on the road again, take a deep breath and try not to be too frustrated with yourself. While the whole event was likely embarrassing and frustrating, one thing is for sure. There is little doubt that you will remember to fill up your tank before you hit the road next time. (Photo AlishaV, Flickr)