Roadside emergencies are stressful—you don’t know what’s wrong with your car, why it’s broken down, if you’re safe, or who to contact. There are likely a million things running through your mind in the moment you have to stop on the side of the road or highway, and you could be wondering what you’re supposed to do.
Don’t panic. Yes, this is a high-stress situation where you need to make quick, well-informed decisions, but panicking makes it all worse and could inhibit your decision-making abilities. That’s why we have the steps for you to take so you know what to do during a roadside emergency in Chicago.
Whether it’s your first time driving here or you’re a local, you could benefit from these Chicago roadside emergency tips.
Steps to Take Immediately in a Roadside Emergency
In Chicago, we have a system in place to help people when they have a roadside emergency on one of our highways. The Illinois Tollway and the Illinois Department of Transportation fund roadside assistance on the Tollway through their Highway Emergency Lane Patrol (HELP) Program.
This means broken down drivers on the Tollway have access to free service trucks from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays. The only costs a driver would pay are if they receive gas or coolant for their vehicle, which would come with a nominal fee.
Otherwise, when you’re using Chicago’s roadside assistance on regular roads, you have access to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What’s important is that you know how to utilize these systems we have in place so that you can get the help you need as soon as you need it. Here are the actions you should take in a roadside emergency in Chicago:
- Pull over to the side of the road if possible
- Turn on your hazard lights
- Turn off your engine
- Stay in the car with your seatbelts on
- If you’re on the Illinois Tollway, call 999 for assistance
- If you’re not on the Tollway, and you’re on a regular street or highway, you should call 911 or Chicago’s roadside assistance number, (866) 273-3681
- Tell them the make and color of your vehicle
- Tell them the road you’re on and direction you were driving
- Locate the nearest exit or milepost to give them your location as best as possible
- Give them a general description of what happened
- Answer their questions calmly and honestly
- Pop your hood so they can easily access your engine or check any other issue
- Calmly wait for them to arrive
Depending on your situation, IDOT will send services to your location. Most likely, the Chicago area Traffic Patrol (ETP) and the Metro-East area Emergency Patrol Vehicle (EPV) programs will be who respond to your call. These are known as Minutemen, and they respond to traffic problems, safety hazards, vehicles on the side of the road, and objects in the roadway.
You can trust the Minutemen to handle your situation properly and get you to safety. Not only will they help you, but they’ll also work to keep traffic moving and in a safe manner so that everyone is as safe as possible.
What Kind of Incidents Are Roadside Emergencies?
Now that you know what to do, you might be wondering if your situation qualifies for these services. If you’re stopped on the side of the road in the Chicago area, then you likely fall into the category of needing roadside assistance, because otherwise you would be continuing on your way.
More specifically, here are some of the incidents that would be considered a roadside emergency that you could call 911 for assistance in Chicago:
- Flat tire
- Dead battery
- Lack of coolant or other essentials
- Needing a tow
- Fender bender
- Hitting an object in the roadway
- Other accidents
- Medical emergency or injuries
If you don’t see what you experienced listed above, don’t worry. You still might be experiencing a roadside emergency and could use their help. If you feel like it is an emergency, then you should call for roadside assistance in Chicago—it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Since this is a free service, there’s no harm in calling for help.
Who Is Covered by Roadside Emergency Services in Illinois?
You might still have some questions about roadside emergency services in the state, specifically in the Chicago area. You might be wondering if there are hidden costs, if it’s really free, or who it’s available to help. Here are the answers to those questions.
First, the answer is yes, it’s really free. There aren’t hidden costs intended to surprise you. IDOT funds this program so drivers in emergency situations can get the help they need, regardless of their financial situation.
While there aren’t any hidden fees or costs, if your car requires extensive service, expensive parts, or needs to be towed much farther than usual, then you might have some fees that you’ll need to pay. However, these aren’t hidden—they will be up front with you about the cost from the beginning so you’ll know what you need to pay, or what you might need to contact your insurance about.
Another question is likely about who is eligible to receive these services. You can call for roadside assistance if you are:
- Driving your own car
- Driving your friend’s car, or another person’s car with permission
- A passenger in a car that broke down
- You’re from Chicago
- You’re just visiting Chicago
- You’re only passing through the city
This ensures that anyone who needs help in a roadside emergency can get it. The Minutemen and mechanics are available 24/7 and will travel anywhere in the city of Chicago to give the assistance you need to be on your way or help with any other emergency.
Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys Is Here for You
One type of emergency you could have been involved in is a crash. When you’ve been in a car accident that caused damages and you needed to stop, you might call for roadside assistance. However, they will also send the police and ambulances so that there is a report of your incident, and you get the help you need.
When that crash in Chicago caused you injuries and other damages, you might need the help of a car accident lawyer. At Krzak Rundio Gorman, Injury Attorneys, we understand how difficult it can be recovering from a collision, which is why we’re here to represent you.
Reach out to our firm today so we can discuss your legal options.