Whether you’re a new driver or a seasoned motorist, breaking down is never great. As well as costs to cover in the aftermath, the feeling of being stranded – especially on a motorway – can be a worrying experience.
But by being prepared, knowing what to do in the event of a breakdown can make the situation a lot less stressful than it needs to be.
Here, we’ll guide you through what to do when breaking down on different roads, how to be more prepared in the event of future breakdowns, and what you should do it you don’t have breakdown cover. Let’s get started below…
Breaking down on a motorway can be especially scary. That’s why it’s important to follow the correct precautions to stay as safe as possible.
If it’s possible, leave the motorway at the nearest exit or pull into a service station. If this isn’t possible then pull over onto the hard shoulder and stop your car as far to the left as possible. Be sure to also turn your wheels to the left.
Turn on your hazard lights, as well as your sidelights if it’s dark or foggy. You and your passengers should also leave the car using the left-hand door. If you have them, now’s the time to put on your hi-vis.
Stand behind the safety barriers so you’re away from any passing traffic.
Using your mobile, get in touch with your breakdown service. If you don’t have a mobile phone to hand, walk to an emergency telephone (free of charge) on your side of the motorway. These are generally spaced one mile apart; breakdown services also use them as markers so they can more easily spot you.
Remember: whenever you’re using an emergency telephone, always face traffic.
If you do break down on a motorway, at no point should you try any of the following:
Without a hard shoulder to contend with, smart motorways have their own set of precautions to take. Here’s what you need to do should you break down on a smart motorway.
Switch on your hazard lights and move into the left-hand lane. Next, exit the motorway at the nearest junction, service station, or emergency area – look out for orange SOS signs; these indicate safe sections of road.
As with regular motorway breakdowns, turn on your sidelights if it’s dark or foggy, and exit the car using the left-hand door. Again, put on your hi-vis jacket if you have one.
Stand behind the safety barriers to avoid passing traffic.
It’s essential that you use the telephone found in the emergency refuge area. Be sure to provide the operator with as much information as you can. It’s also worth asking them to contact your breakdown service on your behalf.
Once the call is complete, stand behind the emergency barrier.
As with regular motorways, the same advice regarding attempted repairs, placing warning triangles, and standing between your car and other passing vehicles applies here.
A fast-moving road can prove just as dangerous as a motorway. Follow the advice below to stay safe after your car has broken down.
If it’s possible, try to get off the dual carriageway or A-road and onto a quieter minor road. If that isn’t possible, pull into a lay-by or get as far across to the left of the road as possible.
To make other motorists aware of your situation, switch on your hazard lights. If it’s dark or foggy, turn on your sidelights too.
Leave your car from the left-hand side, put on a hi-vis jacket if you’ve got one and place a warning triangle behind your car.
After informing your breakdown provider, wait outside your vehicle on the other side of the safety barrier.
With a high potential for blockages and traffic jams, breaking down in an urban area can be stressful. Follow the steps below to keep those stress levels to a minimum.
If it’s possible, move your car out of the way to a parking spot or side road so that other drivers can make their way past.
So that other motorists know you’ve broken down, turn on your hazard lights.
Once you’re out of other motorists’ way, give your breakdown service or local garage a call.
If you end up breaking down but don’t have breakdown cover (either as part of your car insurance or as a standalone policy), then don’t fret. You can still seek assistance.
Without breakdown cover, there a few options available to you:
Minimising the stress of a breakdown is a case of being properly prepared. By keeping the following tips in mind, you’ll be in a better position to deal with a breakdown in the future.