You're cruising down the highway at a good clip when suddenly — BOOM — your tire blows out. Panic ensues. Your vehicle starts to slow down. If a front tire blows out your car will pull you to the left or right as the steering wheel begins to vibrate. If a rear tire blows out you'll feel the car wobbling back and forth, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Now the $64,000 question: How do you get to the side of the road safely?

Before we tell you the answer, it pays to know how to prevent a blowout in the first place. 

Your tires are more likely to blow out if they have a lot of miles on them, so it's always smart to check your tires for wear before a road trip. Also make sure they're not underinflated. Most blowouts happen when driving on underinflated tires at high speeds, according to experts. Keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle and check your tire pressure once a month. 

Failing to rotate your tires can also contribute to a blowout, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 

Blowouts are more likely in the summer and early fall, thanks to the heat and to cars that are overloaded for vacation (or perhaps college drop-offs), according to Popular Mechanics.

Related: Are Your Tires Dangerously Underinflated?

During a tire blowout

Keep a firm grip on the wheel, advises AAA. 

Don't brake. Breaking may cause you to skid and lose control, warns the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. While you're trying to regain control of the car, maintain your speed if you can, says Steer left or right to stay in your lane until you're ready to start to pull over.

Pull over to the side of the road. Look for a gap in the traffic that will allow you to pull over, and gradually release the accelerator as you do. Once you reach 20 miles per hour or under, use the brakes if needed, says AAA.

Once you're stopped, apply your parking brake and exit the vehicle, advises AAA.

Related: 5 Gadgets That Can Get You (and Your Car) Out of a Jam

After a blowout

Turn on your emergency lights. Let other drivers know your car is disabled so they will slow down and drive around you, suggest AAA.

Check your spare tire. If you know how to change a tire, go ahead and do it. If you don't, or you'd rather leave it to the pros (every year, some 10,000 people visit the emergency room after suffering injuries while trying to use a jack or hoist according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), call for roadside assistance.

Related: Staying Alive: How to Cut Your Risk of Dying in a Car Accident

Muriel Vega is a writer with a passion for budget travel and staying safe while abroad. A Georgia State University graduate, she has over 6 years of editorial experience and has written for The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Billfold, among other outlets. In her free time, you can find her baking pies, playing with her two dogs and cat, or planning her next vacation. She spends way too much time on Twitter, one of her favorite social media channels. Her favorite safety tip: Make sure you have all the necessary shots before you go abroad.