No one wants to experience a breakdown but, if you do, it’s important to act decisively. Here’s what you should do…
What to do after a Breakdown
Should your car breakdown, the first thing you need to do is maintain your composure; regardless of where you are. You need to simultaneously think about your own safety and that of other road-users. If you can, attempt to pull over and remove yourself from the road. Whether you can, or can’t, you should turn on your vehicle’s hazard warning lights as soon as possible.
Once your vehicle’s warning lights are on, exit your vehicle on the left hand side, assuming this is possible. If you have high-visibility clothing, put it on. If you’re not on a motorway (of any description), retrieve your warning triangle and place it 45 metres (147 feet) behind your vehicle; note that this is roughly 60 paces.
If visibility is poor, either due to the time of day or poor weather, keep your vehicle’s sidelights switched on and ensure they’re not obstructed. At this point, you should call your breakdown service.
Breakdowns on motorways, smart or otherwise, are a different matter. The high speeds and volumes of traffic make them much more dangerous than breaking down on a quieter road.
If you breakdown on a regular motorway, try to leave the motorway at the nearest exit or pull in to a service station. If this isn’t possible, try to reach the hard shoulder. Try to park as far to the left as possible, and make sure your vehicle’s wheels are facing the left, too.
At this point, turn on your vehicle’s hazards and leave your vehicle on the left-hand side. Stand behind barriers, and then contact your breakdown service.
If you can’t reach the hard shoulder, or exit the motorway, try to get as close to the left hand lane as possible. Switch on your hazard lights and leave your seatbelt on. Only attempt to leave the vehicle if you can safely clear the road.
Some smart motorway formats lack a hard shoulder. In which case, it may be difficult to get out of a live lane in the event of a breakdown. There are periodic emergency refuge areas, marked by orange SOS signs. Try to reach one of these, if you can.
Either way, you should proceed to follow similar steps as if you were on any other motorway. However, on a smart motorway you must use an emergency telephone if you can reach it and give as much information as you can. If you can’t reach a telephone, call 999.
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