Aside from having an accident, having one’s car break down, particulary if kids or elderly are on board, is perhaps one of the worst things most of us can think of when setting off on a drive. Whilst cars do break down from time to time, especially if they haven’t been very well maintained, what happens next is VERY important….
Stop somewhere safe
This is very important – you can’t leave your car stopped in the middle of a fast Motorway if you can help it as you obviously create a huge risk to both yourself and your passengers, and other Motorway users too. Try to pull over on to the hard shoulder or get your vehicle off the road. If you’re on a smart Motorway which has no hard shoulder, try to stop at an emergency refuge area, Motorway service station or exit at the next junction. If this isn’t possible, try to get your vehicle as far left as possible.
Get your hazard lights on
By law, British registered cars have to have hazzard lights fitted and operative. In order to keep everyone as safe as possible, warn oncoming traffic about the hazard that your car has created by putting on your hazard lights as soon as you stop. This keeps other motorists aware of the oncoming situation. If you have a warning triangle, and if it’s safe to do so, try and place this several meters behind the broken down vehicle too as a pre-warning, particulary if you break down on a bend.
Exit the vehicle
When you do this, make sure you get out of the passenger side of the car so that you are as far away from traffic as possible. This is particularly important if you are on a Motorway as the oncoming traffic is often travelling very quickly. If you have a reflective jacket, you should put it on. Get everyone out of the car safely, too. If you are broken down on a Motorway, and if you are on the hard shoulder, get yourself and your passengers on the other side of the hard shoulder crash barrier, if there is one, or up the embankment, well away from the stranded vehicle.
Call your breakdown service
Give us, or your breakdown service provider a call for help once everyone is safely out of the vehicle. Do not try to repair any damages yourself – it is best to leave breakdown recovery to the professionals to avoid damage to yourself and the car.
If, once your breakdown service provider has fixed the problem, your car is roadworthy again, make sure it is safe to re-join the road. Take particular care if you are re-joining a Motorway as the traffic travels at such high speeds; look out for a safe gap and watch out for other vehicles that may also be on the hard shoulder. The highway code advises that you drive along the hard shoulder and get your car up to speed before joining the Motorway. If you are broken down in a refuge area on a smart Motorway, your breakdown rescue agent may be able to have Highways England, close, or slow the traffic so you can safely rejoin the traffic flow once again.
Above all, stay safe and stay alert.