Police urge caution when tending to broken down vehicle


A frightening incident on Interstate 74 Thursday has police reminding drivers to be safe when they find their car broken down.

A flat tire, an empty gas tank and a rush hour stall along the highway.

"I called for help. I got help coming, but this is scary," said motorist Jerry Casitty, broken down along I-65 near 38th Street Thursday evening.

Five hours earlier and several miles west, the driver of a stalled car on I-74 near Raceway Road found out how scary, when she was hit by a passing van while she filled her car's empty gas tank.

"Most cars are going to have the fill up for the gas tank on the left side of the car, unfortunately, which puts you in the traffic side of the road," said ISP Sgt. Rich Myers.

The woman struck on I-74 was hospitalized, but her injuries did not appear to be serious.

State police say if you have to pull over on the highway, move over as far off the roadway as you safely can. That gives you more room to work if you've got to refill your gas tank, fix a flat or check under the hood.

Jerry, stuck on I-65 Thursday night, left a full car's width between his car and the traffic lane where cars moved past quickly.

"Very exposed," he said. "Sixties would be lenient. They're flying by. I got over as far as I could, I kept thinking Hoosier Helpers would come to help and haven't seen them yet."

You can't call Hoosier Helper directly and they're often inundated with work during rush hour. So who do you call if you break down on the interstate?

If you have onboard emergency service like OnStar, you can push the button, or call an auto club like AAA if you're a member.

But don't call 911.

"We would rather you not. It's not a true emergency and 911 is so busy here in the metro area," Myers said.

Instead, call the state or local police non-emergency phone number. You can find those by calling the information operator or online via smartphone.

"I'm just a little scared being too near the road," said Casitty. "Because they won't scoot over a little bit for you."

Police remind us all we must move over or slow down for emergency vehicles stopped on the road, including tow trucks.

State police say it's best to save their phone numbers to your cell phone. In the Indianapolis area, it's (317) 899-8527 or the toll free number 1-800-582-8440.