What to do if you breakdown

There is never a good time for your car to breakdown! But if you’re prepared for the worst and clued up on what you should do, then everything will be ok. With the first frost at the weekend and the bitter cold snap called winter now upon us, we’re writing this article giving you the heads up; its better to not breakdown and be over prepared, than to breakdown and regret not being prepared as you sit in a freezing car for hours waiting to be rescued.

On the motorway – step by step instructions

  • Pull over on to the hard shoulder and stop, position yourself as far left as possible with the wheels turned in to the left.
  • Leave your sidelights on and turn on your hazard warning lights.
  • Get out of the vehicle by the left hand door and make sure your that all your passengers do the same.
  • Leave animals in the vehicle or in an emergency, keep them under proper control on the verge.
  • If you have reflective jackets in the vehicle wear them – do not use a warning triangle on the hard shoulder.
  • Make sure that passengers keep away from the carriageway and hard shoulder and children are kept under control – it is best to retreat up the bank, or behind a barrier if this is possible.
  • Don’t attempt even simple repairs.

Only once you are in a safe place should you call for help.  Use your mobile phone to call up your breakdown cover provider and tell them how to find you, if you don’t have breakdown cover then click here to start looking for cover – you’ll thank us later.

When giving your location to your rescuers, use a satnav or mobile phone GPS application to give them an accurate location making it easier to find you.   If you ever wondered what those signs are on the motorway which have numbers and don’t look like they are for you, then for your information these are driver marker points in which you can use to describe your location.  For more information on these signs and how to read them, click here to learn about them!

If you don’t have a mobile phone then you’re going to have to walk to the emergency phone along your side of the carriageway, but DO NOT CROSS to the other side.  Follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder to the emergency phone which is connected to the police and highways agency.

What is a smart motorway?

Smart motorways are ones where the hard shoulder has been converted for permanent use as a traffic lane.  When you breakdown on a smart motorway try to pull over in a refuge area, motorway service area or leave at the next junction.  Stopping on a live carriageway is your LAST resort.

  • Use hazard warning lights to help other drivers see you.
  • If you are in the left hand lane and its safe to do so, exit the car through the left hand door along with your passengers.
  • If you cannot exit the vehicle or do not feel it is safe to do so, then remain in the vehicle and dial 999.

Once you have dialled 999 the signal operator will use the digital display signs above the carriageway to warn drivers of you obstructing the carriageway, and will dispatch a traffic officer to help protect the scene.

On other roads

Breaking down on a regular road is not as scary as the motorway, but it can still be a dangerous situation.

  • If you have a reflective jacket, put it on.
  • If you have any fear that your vehicle may be struck by other traffic, make all your passengers get out of the car and get well away from the traffic.
  • Put your warning triangle (if you have one) on the road at least 45 metres (50 yards) behind your vehicle.
  • Keep your sidelights on if it is dark or visibility is poor.
  • Do not stand (or let anybody else stand), between your vehicle and oncoming traffic.
  • At night or in poor visibility do not stand where you will prevent other road users seeing your lights.
  • Use your mobile phone to call your breakdown cover provider and tell them your location.

If your car can’t be fixed at the roadside

If your car is not repairable at the side of the road, the breakdown mechanic will offer to tow your vehicle back to your home or a garage of your choice.  We suggest having the vehicle recovered to a garage, because when it comes to having it repaired you’ll then need to have it towed to a garage, and your breakdown provider won’t cover this.

Is your car ready for winter?

Its better to be safe than sorry, get your vehicle checked by a qualified mechanic and ensure that it is safe and ready for the winter.

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