Safety first for "Good Samaritans"

If you spotted a stranded car along the side of the road, would you stop to assist the driver?

There have been numerous incidents involving 'Good Samaritans' who were either robbed, beaten, carjacked or killed after pulling over to assist someone they thought was in need. 

Police say there are a few things you need to remember before stopping to help a complete stranger.

The kind deed of a man in Georgia resulted in an empty wallet and a trip to the hospital after he was robbed and beaten by a stranded driver.

The man spoke with America Now, but asked to remain anonymous.

"I saw a car with caution lights on and the hood was up, and I saw a baby carriage sitting on the roof. That's the whole reason I pulled over, because I thought there was a child," the man recalls.

The victim got out of his car to ask the stranded driver if he was alright.

"By that time, he had slammed the hood shut and rushed me, and before I even could react to it, I had been hit right above the eye," he says.

You never really know if a stranded driver really needs help, or has an ulterior motive. That's why police say the first thing you should do is call for help.

"Call 911 first, at least have a response en route and that way, it minimizes your time of opportunity for something to happen," says Craig Allen, an officer with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Most people are inclined to stop if they think a stranded driver is alone or is a woman, but Allen warns that could be a ruse.

"You don't know if there is someone lurking around, or if there is another car close by," Allen says. "It could be a set-up; it may or may not be."

As for the victim in Georgia, he was not only robbed, but also hit in the head.

"The physical will go away, but the emotional right now -- I still have knots in my stomach," he says. " I don't want it to happen to anyone else."

If you find yourself unable to resist the urge to pull over to help someone, here are a few things to remember:

First, dial 911. Make sure all your doors are locked. Stay inside your vehicle, and only open your window a couple of inches in order to speak with the driver outside.

"You've got to think of your safety first and then the safety of others," Allen says.

If anything appears suspicious or you feel threatened, immediately drive away.

In addition to the potential danger of being robbed, a number of Good Samaritans have been seriously injured or killed by a passing car while trying to change a tire. That's one more reason why police tell us it's best you don't stop and instead call 911.

The best thing you can do in advance to protect yourself in case you are ever stranded is to get a membership to a roadside service like AAA.

Automobile dealers also offer similar services like Ford's Roadside Assistance program and the ToyotaCare program. OnStar is also standard on most General Motors cars.

You can also pick up an inexpensive emergency repair kit from any auto-parts store.

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