Firstly if you have broken down on the motorway this can be considerably more dangerous than a normal road the first step you should take is to turn on your hazard warning lights (for obvious reasons), then safely manoeuvre to the hard shoulder, positioning the vehicle as far left as possible for your own safety and other road users. If you are unable to get on to the hard shoulder you should call emergency services for help immediately.
Next thing to do is get all of the occupants safely out of the vehicle by exiting through the passenger side of the car and to put on any reflective clothing you may have to help your visibility to other road users. At this point don’t be tempted to use you red warning triangle on a motorway this will potentially make things more dangerous.
If you have a disability which prevents you from following the above then stay in your vehicle, keep your seatbelt on, switch on your hazard warning lights and use a mobile phone, if you have one, to contact the emergency services.
If you do have any breakdown cover now’s the time to give them a call otherwise you will need to contact the Highways Agency for assistance, you have probably seen the little phone boxes at the side of the road on your travels these are positioned every 100m and should have signs telling you which direction the nearest box is if one is not clearly visible.
So you’ve broken down on a quieter road, though not as treacherous as the motorway it can still be a hazardous situation.
Same as before, turn on your hazards and pull over to a safe location out of the way of traffic. This is where your red warning triangle can be used and should be positioned at least 45metres behind your vehicle.
Now it’s time to call for help, not taken out any breakdown cover for your vehicle. You do have a few choices about what to do at this point. If you know of a local garage you can give them a call, if not the case you can call the Highway Agency on 0300 123 5000 who will also be able to tow your car. Alternatively you actually have the option of taking out cover with a breakdown company instantly at the side of the road. These 2 latter options will generally cost you around the £150 mark.
Rejoining the carriageway
Build up speed on the hard shoulder and watch for a safe gap in the traffic before rejoining the carriageway. Be aware that other vehicles may be stationary on the hard shoulder.
It’s very rare you will predict a breakdown but using the advice above can help make it a less dangerous, painful and stressful experience for everyone involved, stay safe and remember to keep calm and don’t panic.