It can happen to anyone. You have been running errands all day and realize that you don't have enough gas to make it home. Or you are on a long trip and thought you could manage with your tank until the next gas station, until your car sputters and slows down. You have run out of gas.
There is no need to panic. With this step-by-step guide, you will be back on the road in no time.
How to Handle Running Out of Gas
Step 1: Park Your Car Safely
The most important thing to do when your car runs out of gas is to park it safely. On the highway, stop on the shoulder. In a city, find a public parking lot or try to move to a parking spot on the side of the street. Turn on your hazard lights. Your hazard lights will tell others to be careful around you and that you might need help.
Do not try to make it a little further — you only risk getting your car stalled in the middle of the road. That's dangerous. Safety comes first!
If someone in your car is hurt, call 9-1-1 immediately.
Step 2: Figure Out Your Location
Using your car or your phone's GPS, as well as markers around you, make sure you know exactly where you are. This will help your towing or other safety services reach you.
Step 3: Call for Assistance
If you have a roadside assistance program membership, now is a good time to use it. If not, use your phone to find a roadside assistance number or a gas station close by.
Remember to stay put while waiting for help. If you are cold or hungry, your emergency kit should have blankets, extra clothing, and food like protein bars. (You have an emergency kit, right? If not, now is a great time to put one together!)
Step 4: Flag Someone Down for Help
If for any reason you cannot use roadside assistance or your phone, you have to flag someone down for help. Your hazards should attract enough attention, but you can also stand outside your car (in a safe place) and wave your arms to flag someone down. If you have a visibility vest in your emergency kit, now is a good time to put it on.
Listen to your intuition while interacting with strangers on the road. Be careful if someone refuses to make a call for you and insists on giving you a ride, or if they offer a ride unsolicited.
Step 5: If All Else Fails, Walk to a Gas Station
Sometimes, even flagging a stranger is not practical in your situation. The last step you should consider, if all else fails, is walking to the closest gas station. Especially if you are heading out at night, grab a flashlight and wear your visibility vest. Walking back from the direction you came is safer than going forward.
If you do not have food and water to sustain yourself for a hike, or if you do not feel safe heading out by yourself, the safest place for you is your car. Stay there until someone stops for help.
Save Fuel, Learn Defensive Driving
There are things you can do to avoid finding yourself in this unfortunate situation. The first one is to drive with fuel economy in mind. Saving fuel means you might have just enough to get you to the gas station when you really need it.
Another way to prepare for this situation is to take a defensive driving course. Along with defensive driving techniques, this course covers emergencies, including the importance of an emergency kit. Don't wait until you are caught unaware to prepare for emergencies on the road!