What to Do In an Emergency Over the Road


It’s getting to be that time of year when the roads are getting icy slick and the temperatures are in the single digits. If you want to be prepared for the winter weather consider what you would do in an emergency. Say you are stranded on the side of a highway during a blizzard. Who do you call? What about truck drivers who find themselves with the flu when on a trucking route? Here is some advice on what you should do in a road emergency.

Who Do You Call

Every situation is unique and it can be difficult to plan for an emergency. However, life happens and you want to do your best to prepare for it. Here are some examples of who to call depending on your emergency.

Sick as a Dog

In this example you have the flu and need to get medical attention. Call a cab and have them take you to an emergency medical clinic. If you are in a big enough urban area you can also try to get an Uber. You can find these at major grocery stores, department stores, and strip malls. Emergency medical clinics are not the same as emergency rooms at hospitals. A medical clinic will only treat you for minor ailments, such as the flu, a skin rash or an ear infection. However, you can expect to pay far less at a clinic compared to an ER visit.

Stuck on the Roadside Due to Malfunction

If you are sitting on the side of the road with a busted water pipe, engine failure or otherwise, the first person you should call is your dispatcher. Let them know what’s happening so they can choose whether or not to send a replacement trailer to pick up your load. Time is of the essence in this business, so don’t delay. The dispatcher will then tell you who to call for a repair or tow service. Depending on the type of trucking company you drive for, you may be expected to do some mechanical work yourself. That’s why you should always have basic tools and spare parts in your rig.

Sidelined by a Blizzard

Let’s say you are driving through Cheyenne and all of the sudden, in the middle of August no doubt, you get caught in a blizzard. Interstate 80 is shut down for 150 miles from here to Rawlins and you are stuck where you sit. What do you do? Who do you call? First of all, if you can make it to the nearest truck stop, if there is one, that’s your best bet. Otherwise you will have to pull over the best that you can and sit on the side of the road. Call your dispatcher and let them know you’re a stuck duck.

No need to call emergency services because they are well aware that the road is shut down, unless you have an emergency. Let’s say you are running out of diesel and you won’t make it idling all night until the roads open. Give 911 a shout out and have a rescue worker come and bring you diesel. Passenger drivers do this all the time with gas, but keep in mind you may have to pay a fee for this service depending on the emergency service provider. After all, the alternative is that you will either freeze to death in your tractor from a lack of heat, or you’ll have to get towed to the next truck stop, both of which are your worst case scenarios.

Your Tractor is On Fire

Don’t pass go, don’t collect $200, just call 911 immediately. This isn’t the time to chat with dispatch, you have a real emergency on your hands. The same goes if you are driving in a flooded area, or if you pull up to an accident on the road. In a real emergency that is the time when you need help immediately, and 911 is the way to get it.

A Final Word of Warning

You can never be completely prepared for any emergency. That’s why you want to always be prepared. Begin with knowing what your trucking employer expects you do to in an emergency, as carriers often have their own guidebook on what to do if. You also want to keep alert so you are prepared for anything that the road throws your way. Finally, as winter approaches double-check the forecast for your route and keep updated with any sudden storms blowing your way. Also, pack an emergency bag that includes everything you need for basic survival situations. Here’s a great list of what you should have on hand in case of a disaster according to FEMA. Amend it to work with what space and demands you have in your big rig.