Panic! What NOT To Do When You Break Down on the Motorway
The worst place on earth? Crouching on a grass verge beside a motorway, hazard lights flashing, with traffic roaring past you at 70+ miles per hour.
It’s a nasty situation. Not only is it dangerous, it’s infuriating too. You just want to get from A to B. But whether your destination is home, the shops, or a wedding reception, it’s tough luck. Your broken-down vehicle has other ideas.
Unfortunately, no vehicle is immune from breaking down and the chances are, it will happen to you sooner or later. So make sure you’ve got a good cover in place, and then get breakdown savvy. Knowing what to do if the inevitable happens could help you to get back on the road quickly, but it could also save your life.
The motorway is one of the most dangerous places to break down. So here is some easy-to-follow advice with the help of the UK’s best-known car breakdown brand – The AA – on what to do (and what NOT to do) when you stop short on one of Britain’s motorways.
1. Don’t panic: Keep calm. Safety is paramount, and it’s important to analyse your situation quickly. You need to get your car off the road as quickly as possible, but try to get it to a safe place first. Remember that motorway hard shoulders are for emergency use only – so you should only stop here if it is a real emergency and if you can’t reach a safer location.
2. Don’t be invisible: When pulling over to the hard shoulder, put your hazard lights and sidelights on immediately to warn other drivers. Put on reflective jackets, if you have them.
3. But don’t use a warning triangle: New advice states that you shouldn’t use a triangle warning sign if you have broken down on the motorway. This is partly because it’s dangerous for drivers to place it on the hard shoulder, but also because the speed of passing vehicles can blow the triangle onto the carriageway, which puts other drivers at risk.
4. Don’t exit right: Stop as far to the left of the hard shoulder as possible (allowing yourself room to exit from the left-hand door) and turn your wheels to the left, to prevent the car from rolling onto the carriageway. Get out of the vehicle by the left-hand door, and instruct other passengers to do the same.
5. Don’t stand on the hard shoulder: Once you have exited the vehicle, keep away from the carriageway and hard shoulder. Stand or sit well out of harm’s way up the bank or behind a barrier if possible. Ensure all passengers do the same and that children are kept under control.
6. Don’t move your pets: Animals should be left in the vehicle. The hard shoulder is a terrifying place, particularly for animals, and if spooked they could easily run onto the carriageway. Leave them in the vehicle. However, in the event of an emergency, ensure your animal is under proper control and keep as far back from the carriageway as possible – ideally on the verge or high up the bank.
7. Don’t attempt repairs: You should not attempt repairs, however small or simple you believe they may be. Instead, follow the above instructions, keep well clear of the carriageway and call for help as soon as possible.
You can find comprehensive breakdown advice via The AA website, or for further details on how to stay safe in the event of a breakdown, visit www.survivegroup.org for essential safety tips.