A vehicle breaking down can be stressful and dangerous, as well as costing time and money. Having Breakdown Cover from a reputable company is, of course, highly recommended and very helpful but what do you do before they arrive?
Let’s take a look at the key points of consideration should your car break down:
Position Your Car Safely
Ideally, you should pull over at the side of the road so that both you and your vehicle are safely out of the flow of traffic. You may have time to pull into the next lay-by or a service area but if not, pull over onto the verge or hard shoulder if possible. If it’s a grassy verge, do be aware of soft ground or guttering in which your car could get stuck. Try to pull as far to the left as you can.
Ensure You Can Be Seen
Depending on the location and nature of your breakdown, there may be times when you cannot move your car out of the traffic flow. Wherever you find yourself stopping, ensure you are visible to other road users. Put on your hazard lights and, if it’s night time or adverse weather conditions, your side lights also.
If you have a warning triangle, it’s important to note that the Highway Code states that you should not use a warning triangle on motorways. If using on other roads, it should be placed 45 metres from your vehicle.
Exiting the Vehicle
Regardless of weather conditions, for safety reasons, you must leave your vehicle to wait for assistance. If possible, exit via the left-hand doors and if you have hi-vis jackets, you should wear them for increased visibility.
If you have pets with you, it is better to leave them in the vehicle unless it’s an emergency as they could become distressed and run into traffic. If they do join you at the roadside, ensure they are kept under control for their safety and that of others.
Waiting for Assistance
When calling for assistance, keep an eye on the traffic at all times so that you remain alert and aware of the situation. Whilst waiting for recovery, position yourself a safe distance from the road. On a motorway or dual carriageway, you can stand the other side of the safety barriers. It is never pleasant to break down and have to stand outside in bad weather but it is safer to be away from the vehicle. Do take note of any hazards at the side of the road such as unlevel ground or sudden drops and bear in mind the direction your car will move in should it be hit by another vehicle.
What If I Am Unable to Carry out These Steps?
In the unfortunate event of a breakdown in the lane of a motorway and you are unable to move your car, switch your hazard warning lights on and exit the vehicle only when you are absolutely sure it is safe to do so, and wait on the side of the road as mentioned above.
If it is unsafe to exit the vehicle, or you are disabled and unable to leave the vehicle, keep your seatbelt on and hazard lights on. Then immediately ring 999 and ask for the Police.
Preventing a Breakdown
No one wants to break down, so prevention is better than cure in this situation. Many causes of breakdown could be avoided by taking good care of your vehicle such as regular servicing and upkeep of important components such as tyres and battery. Your local garage can help and advise on this and with regular servicing they will get to know your car, keeping it in optimum condition and minimising the risk of breakdown.