What To Do When You Breakdown

Having a breakdown is stressful and can be dangerous – especially if you are unprepared.

If the worst happens and you do have a breakdown, here’s what you should do.

On The Motorway

  1. Pull over onto the hard shoulder if you can and stop as far to the left as possible, with your front wheels turned into the left.

  2. Put your hazard warning lights on and leave your sidelights on if it’s dark. Do not use a warning triangle.

  3. Leave the vehicle by the left-hand door and make sure that you and all of your passengers climb over the barrier and wait somewhere safe. Wear reflective jackets if you have them.

  4. Call for assistance from the nearest orange emergency phone or call your breakdown service from your mobile.The location of the nearest emergency phone will be indicated by arrows on the marker posts along the edge of the motorway. These phones connect directly to the Highways Agency emergency control centre and automatically identify your position. The Highways Agency will arrange for any assistance you may need.Don’t attempt to repair your vehicle yourself while on the motorway.

  5. If your vehicle is repaired and you are able to drive away, remember to build up speed on the hard shoulder before rejoining the carriageway. Do not pull onto the carriageway at a stupidly slow speed and cause an obstruction.

On Other Roads

  1. Pull over as far to the left as you can – if possible, get your car off the road and onto the verge/into a layby or side street.Put your hazard warning lights on to warn oncoming traffic. If it is dark, leave your sidelights on, too.

  2. If the vehicle is still on the carriageway, make sure everyone gets out of the vehicle by the left-hand doors.

  3. If you have a reflective jacket, put it on. If you have a warning triangle and feel your car may be obstructing traffic, place the warning triangle approximately 50m behind your vehicle on the same side of the road (e.g. on the other side of a blind bend/summit from your car, to warn oncoming drivers of the hazard).

  4. Call for breakdown or emergency assistance using your mobile phone or carry out repairs if you feel it is safe to do so.


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