California Driver Handbook - Health and Safety
According to the CHP, if your vehicle becomes disabled on the freeway:
- Safely pull to the right shoulder. Ideally, park the vehicle next to a call box, if possible. (There is a call box located every quarter mile to two miles.)
- If you must exit the vehicle, exit on the right side of your vehicle, away from traffic.
- Once you arrange for assistance, return to your vehicle, get back into the vehicle from the right side (away from traffic), and put on your seatbelts.
- Stay inside your vehicle with the seatbelts on until help arrives.
In certain circumstances (when there is not enough shoulder space or if there is a guard rail or an area to safely stay away from the freeway lanes), exit your vehicle and stay away from your vehicle. Use your emergency blinking lights at your discretion according to weather conditions. The lights may be helpful, but they could also attract drunk drivers.
The California Highway Patrol’s Freeway Service Patrol (FSP) provides free emergency roadside services during commute periods. If you get stuck on the freeway because your automobile stops running, FSP will:
- Offer you a gallon of gas if you run out.
- "Jump start" your vehicle if the battery is dead.
- Refill your radiator and tape hoses.
- Change a flat tire.
The FSP program:
- Cannot tow your vehicle to a private repair service or residence.
- Does not recommend tow service companies or repair and body shops.
- Does not tow motorcycles.
- Does not assist vehicles which have been involved in a collision unless directed by the CHP.
- Does report any collision to the CHP.
If FSP cannot start your vehicle, it will be towed free of charge to a location approved by the CHP. FSP will also contact additional assistance for you. The CHP will notify an auto club or towing service.
The FSP serves the following areas:
- Valley Division–the Sacramento metro and Tracy areas
- Golden Gate Division–the San Francisco Bay Area
- Central Division–the Fresno area
- Southern Division–the Los Angeles Basin
- Inland Division–the Riverside area
- Border Division–the San Diego and Orange County areas
- Coastal Division–the Monterey and Santa Cruz areas
Call 1-800-TELLCHP (835-5247) to find out if the FSP operates where you are and how to contact the FSP.
Most information in your driver license file is available to the public. Your residence address may only be viewed by authorized agencies. Your mailing address, if different from your residence, is less restricted.
Records on the physical or mental condition of a driver remain confidential.
You may obtain a copy of your driving record at any DMV office for a fee with valid identification.
If you follow the suggestions below, you can minimize your chances of becoming the victim of vehicle theft. In the United States, a vehicle is stolen an average of every 21 minutes. Vehicle theft results in costs to the victim and it increases insurance premiums. Also, vehicle thieves often use the stolen vehicles to commit other crimes.
Vehicle thefts occur more often where large groups of cars are parked at any time of day for extended periods of time, such as shopping centers, colleges, sporting events, movie complexes, and large apartment complexes.
Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming the victim of vehicle theft:
- Never leave:
- Your vehicle running and unattended even to dash into a store.
- The keys in the ignition.
- Keys inside a locked garage or a hide-a-key box.
- Valuables such as purses, laptops, etc., in plain view even if your vehicle is locked. Place them out of sight.
- Personal identification documents, such as the ownership title or credit cards in the vehicle.
- Roll up your windows and lock your vehicle even if it is parked in front of your house.
- Park in high-traffic, well-lighted areas whenever possible.
- Report a stolen vehicle immediately to the police.
- Install a mechanical device that locks the steering wheel, column, or brakes.
- Think about purchasing a vehicle theft tracking/security system, especially if you own one of the frequently-stolen model vehicles.
- When you must leave your key with a valet, attendant, or mechanic, only leave the ignition key.
- Copy your license plate and vehicle information on a card, and keep that information with you and not in the car. The police will need this information, if your vehicle is stolen.
Traffic breaks are used by law enforcement to:
- Slow or stop traffic to remove hazards from the roadway.
- Conduct emergency operations.
- Prevent traffic collisions in heavy fog or unusually heavy traffic.
During a traffic break, the officer turns on the rear emergency lights, slows the vehicle, and drives across the lanes of traffic in a serpentine manner. To assist the officer in conducting a traffic break:
- Activate your emergency flashers to warn other drivers there is a hazard ahead.
- Slowly begin to decrease your speed. Do not slow abruptly unless it is necessary to avoid a collision. Slow to the same speed as the officer while keeping a safe distance from the patrol vehicle ahead of you.
- Do not attempt to drive past the patrol vehicle. Do not accelerate until the patrol vehicle has turned off its emergency lights and traffic conditions ahead allow the return to normal speeds.
Acknowledge the officer’s presence by turning on your right turn signal. Activating your signal lets the officer know that you recognize his or her presence. An officer may become alarmed if you fail to recognize him or her, and might perceive that you have a reason to avoid yielding or that you might be impaired.
Move your vehicle to the right shoulder of the road. The officer will guide you using his or her patrol vehicle. Do not move onto the center median. Do not stop in the center median of a freeway or on the opposite side of a two-lane roadway. This places both the driver and the officer in danger of being hit by oncoming traffic.
On a freeway, move completely onto the right shoulder, even if you’re in the carpool lane. Stop in well lit areas when possible. Pull your vehicle as far off the roadway as possible. When it is dark, look for locations that have more light such as areas with street or freeway lights, near restaurants, or service stations.
End your cell phone conversation and turn off your radio. The officer needs your full attention to communicate with you to complete the enforcement stop in the least amount of time needed.
Remain inside your vehicle unless otherwise directed by the officer. Never step out of your vehicle, unless an officer directs you to do so. During an enforcement stop, the officer’s priorities are your safety, the safety of your passengers, and the officer’s own personal safety. In most situations, the safest place for you and your passengers is inside your vehicle. Exiting your vehicle without first being directed by an officer can increase the risk of being struck by a passing vehicle and/or increase the officer’s level of feeling threatened.
Place your hands in clear view, including all passengers’ hands such as on the steering wheel, on top of your lap, etc. During an enforcement stop, an officer’s inability to see the hands of the driver and all occupants in the vehicle increases the officer’s level of feeling threatened. Most violent criminal acts against a law enforcement officer occur through the use of a person’s hands, such as the use of a firearm, sharp object, etc. If your windows are tinted, it is recommended that you roll down your windows after you have stopped your vehicle on the right shoulder of the roadway and before the officer makes contact with you.