If You Notice This While Driving, Call 911, Authorities Warn
This on-the-road occurrence could be more dangerous than you realize.
Getting behind the wheel of a car comes with a slew of dangers. The number of potential pitfalls on the road are endless, from natural hazards like wild animals or wet pavement, to other people driving recklessly by drinking or texting. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently reported that the number of U.S. traffic deaths reached a 16-year high in 2021, with an estimate of nearly 43,000 people dying from motor vehicle crashes last year. Now, authorities are warning about one danger on the road that many may not realize can cause accidents. Read on to find out what you should be watching out for when driving, and when it's time to call 911.
Police have provided a number of recent warnings for drivers.
Anyone who has been pulled over for speeding knows all too well that police are constantly monitoring the roads. But they're not just watching for those going over the speed limit.
Back in February, police in Los Angeles warned drivers that having seemingly harmless bumper stickers or decals on their car could make them a target for crime by giving "criminals free information" about themselves or their family. Then just last month, Illinois State Police alerted Americans about an increase in road rage incidents resulting in expressway shootings, advising drivers to call 911 if they witness road rage incidents.
Now, authorities have informed drivers of another reason they may need to call police while on the road.
Drivers have been given a new alert about calling 911.
The thought of calling 911 because of an empty gas tank may seem rash, but some officials recommend it in certain situations. Roy Wasko, owner of Wasko's Marathon and Garage in Brecksville, Ohio, told Aceable that the question of whether or not you should call the police when you run of gas "depends on where it happens."
Trooper Brandon Karlen from the Wisconsin State Patrol recently told ABC-affiliate WAOW in Wausau, Wisconsin, that he advises drivers to call authorities if they run out of gas on a busy roadway. "Pull over to the side of the road, as far away as you can get, turn your emergency four way flashers on, and then jump on your cell phone and give 911 a call," Karlen said.
Driving with no gas can be dangerous.
Driving on a busy road or highway with little to no gas left can actually be a safety hazard—both for your car and for you. "Most vehicles won't burn up with the first time [driving until empty], but you can severely damage your fuel pump. It's designed to pump fuel not air, so you don't want that running completely dry," Evan Olson, manager at Olson Tire & Auto Service, told WAOW. "The components in your vehicle are not designed to operate without fuel."
But running out of gas on the road might not just damage your car. "We have been seeing more people running until very low gas, which is not an ideal thing," Olson said. "Suddenly you're driving on the freeway at 60, 70 miles an hour and no gas, that's obviously bad for you, and a moment of panic or potentially crashing."
If you need to call police for an empty gas tank, don't leave your car.
The best remedy to running out of gas on the highway or a busy road is remembering to fill up your gas tank before a warning light comes on. "The biggest safety rule of thumb is fill up at a fourth of a tank," Olson told WAOW. But if you forget that key precaution measure and need to call 911 because you've run out of gas in the middle of the road, officials have one more piece of safety advice: "Never try to get out of the car," Wasko told Aceable.
Karlen stressed this as well, warning that drivers stranded without gas on the road waiting for police should only get out of their car if it is absolutely necessary. "The number one thing we see is people getting out of their vehicles, and maybe hanging around their vehicle or sitting on their hood," he explained. "Number one thing, stay in your vehicle, stay safe."