Breaking down is always stressful, and even more so if you break down on a motorway. Here are some tips to help you stay safe if it happens to you.
Get your vehicle to a safe place
As soon as you realise there is a problem with your car, if possible leave the motorway at the next junction or pull into the nearest services. If this isn’t possible then indicate left and pull onto the hard shoulder as far over to the left as you can. If you have to slow down or stop quickly then put your hazard lights on to warn other drivers. When your stop, turn your wheels to face the verge (away from the road) so that if your car rolls it will roll away from the motorway.
Make your vehicle visible to other drivers
Switch on your hazard lights and if it is dark or foggy then put on your car’s side lights as well. Unlike other roads, if you are on a motorway you should not put a warning triangle on the hard shoulder as it is not safe for you to do so and it is also dangerous to other drivers.
Get yourself to a safe place
It might be tempting to sit in the comfort of your car, but this is very dangerous on a motorway. Even if it is cold and/or raining outside you and all passengers should get out of the car as soon as it is safely parked. If you have any pets they should be left inside the car unless they can be kept securely on a lead, otherwise there is a chance that they could run off into the traffic which is dangerous for them as well as other drivers.
If you have reflective clothing then put this on. Ensure that you and all passengers leave the car from the doors on the left hand side and not on the side where the traffic is. Wait as far away from your vehicle and the motorway traffic as you can, preferably behind a safety barrier if there is one. It is very important that you keep any children you have with you as close to you as possible and don’t give them the chance to wander off.
Even if you are able to repair your car yourself, it is not safe to do so on a motorway.
Call for help
Once you are in a safe place you can call for help. If you have breakdown cover then give them a call, giving them your car details and your location. If you are not signed up for breakdown assistance then you will need to call the Highways Agency. This can be done either from your mobile or using one of the free roadside phones along the hard shoulder – these are usually located at one mile intervals along motorways. Once you have called for help, stay in a safe spot away from your car and the traffic – this includes during the period that your car is being repaired.
Prepare and prevent
It is obviously always best to prevent breaking down on a motorway in the first place if at all possible. Get your car serviced regularly, check tyres and oil before going on longer journeys and always ensure you have plenty of petrol in case of long delays on the motorway. It is also a good idea to keep some water, warm clothing or blankets and high visibility clothing in your car just in case the worst does happen.