posted 3 years ago

What To Do If You Breakdown On The Motorway

Tips For Surviving A Motorway Breakdown

A motorway breakdown is a frightening and potentially dangerous experience, but following a few simple steps minimises the risk.

Park Safely

At the first sign of an imminent failure, indicate left then – without aggressively chopping across traffic – guide the vehicle onto the hard shoulder. Park as far to the left as practical.

Be Visible

It is important to warn fellow road users that the vehicle has stopped, so switch on the hazard warning and parking lights. If visibility is extremely poor, activate the rear fog light too. 

Watch For Traffic

Danger from traffic comes in various forms. Watch for vehicles on the inside lane that drift towards the hard shoulder, traffic that enter the hard shoulder due to a breakdown, and any collisions on the main carriageway that might force cars towards your location. 

Exit The Vehicle

Next, exit the vehicle. Grab a reflective jacket now rather than return for it later. Remember to also take a mobile phone and perhaps a coat. For safe and easy access, such items should be stored in the cabin rather than the boot if practical. Exit from the passenger side then stand behind the safety barrier. Position yourself – and all the passengers – a meaningful distance behind the vehicle in case it is struck from the rear and pushed forward.

Call For Help

Call a breakdown specialist to repair or recover the vehicle. If  it is not insured in this manner – or your phone battery is flat – help comes via a network of orange emergency telephones that connect to Highways England or the Police. There is one every mile on a motorway and the call is free. To find the nearest phone, look for a white post on the hard shoulder with a directional arrow.

Leave Mechanicals To Mechanics

It might be tempting to personally repair a minor technical fault on the hard shoulder. Best not. A breakdown specialist works while shielded from traffic by a large recovery vehicle that is covered with bright lights. A DIY mechanic is more exposed. Furthermore, a specialist has the tools and knowledge required to work quickly. 

Rejoin Traffic

If the vehicle has been repaired it can rejoin traffic. In this scenario, view the hard shoulder as a slip road and pick-up speed before entering the inside lane of traffic. Be careful, the hard shoulder might be blocked further ahead by another broken vehicle.

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