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If you’ve come across our article, we hope you’re safe! If your car has broken down and you don’t know what to do, the first thing you should do is get yourself off the road and into a safe place and then call your breakdown company. If you don’t have a breakdown policy in place, you can call any breakdown company and request emergency assistance.¬†

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What to do if your car breaks down?

Depending on where you are and the type of road you have broken down on, there are different steps that you will need to take. However, in general, follow our 6 steps to take if your vehicle has broken down.

  1. Stay calm and be aware of other road users.
  2. Pull over, if it’s safe to do so and your car will allow it, to get you off the road.
  3. Turn on your hazard lights.
  4. Get out of the vehicle via the left side door, away from the road. Set out your hazard triangle around 45 metres behind the vehicle (only if not on a motorway) and put on a high-viz vest if you have one.
  5. Stand away from your vehicle at the side of the road.
  6. Call a breakdown company for emergency assistance.

What to do if your vehicle breaks down on the motorway?

If your car breaks down on the motorway, the steps you should take can be a little different. Find out what to do if your car broke down on the motorway:

  1. Leave the motorway by the nearest exit if it is safe to do so and if your car is able to move. If you can’t get to an exit, try to get onto the hard shoulder and tuck your car in to avoid anyone crashing into you.¬†
  2. Turn on your hazard lights, no matter what time of day it is.
  3. Exit the vehicle via the left-hand side doors, away from the road. 
  4. Put on any safety clothing such as a high-visibility jacket. 
  5. Get on the other side of the barrier that goes along the hard shoulder and position yourself away from the front of the car. 
  6. Identify where you are as your recovery assistant will need to know exactly where you are. Call your breakdown company or call any of the emergency contacts above, even if you don’t have cover.¬†

My car has broken down on the motorway but I can’t get to the hard shoulder – help!

If you can’t move your car into a safe place, don’t panic!¬†

  1. Try to get into the left-hand lane, if you aren’t already, and get your car as far off the road as possible.
  2. Get out of the vehicle only if it is safe to do so and do this by using the left-hand side door.
  3. Position yourself away from the vehicle. 
  4. If you can’t get out of the vehicle safely, keep your seatbelt fastened with the hazards on.
  5. Call 999 first to let them know there is an obstruction on the road.
  6. Call your breakdown company for assistance. 

What happens if you break down on a smart motorway? 

Smart motorways use different methods to help ease congestion and control speed limits. This can be done by increasing the number of speed cameras, setting varying speed limits and also in some cases using the hard shoulder as a lane. This is worth noting if your car has broken down on a smart motorway as you may not be able to use the hard shoulder to get to safety. 

  1. If you can’t get to the hard should for safety on a smart motorway, there will instead be an Emergency Refuge Area (ERA) which is situated around every mile and a half along the motorway.
  2. Switch on your headlights and sidelights if visibility is reduced. 
  3. If you can’t get to a hard shoulder or ERA, try to get as far left on the road as possible instead.¬†
  4. If it is safe to do so, you should then exit the vehicle from the lefthand side. If not, wait in the vehicle with your seatbelt fastened.
  5. Call 999 and then your breakdown company. 
warning sign

5 things you should NEVER do if your car breaks down.

When you’re car breaks down, it can be very easy to panic but you don’t have to! As long as you keep yourself safe, get off the road as quickly as you can and call your emergency breakdown service, you should be fine. However, there are a number of things you should never do if your car breaks down.¬†

  • DO NOT try to repair your vehicle yourself at the side of the road.
  • DO NOT take any pets out of the car as they will be safe within the vehicle¬†
  • DO NOT use your hazard warning triangle on the motorway.¬†
  • DO NOT get out of the car if you’re in the middle of the road.
  • DO NOT assume people can see you and always out your hazard lights on.¬†

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