Broken Down on the Motorway: What to Do

Vehicle recovery on 7.5 ton vehicle


Breaking down on a motorway can be a daunting experience, but it’s important to stay calm and follow the right steps to ensure your safety. In this guide, we will outline what to do if you find yourself in this situation, whether you are on a motorway with a hard shoulder or a smart motorway without one. Remember, your safety is paramount, so always prioritize finding a safe place and getting help.

What to Do If You Break Down on a Motorway with a Hard Shoulder

1. Try to Get Off the Motorway:
– If possible, safely exit the motorway at the next available exit.
– If you cannot reach an exit, pull up onto the hard shoulder.
– Position your vehicle as far to the left as possible, with your wheels turned to the left.

2. Turn on Your Lights:
– Activate your hazard warning lights.
– If it’s dark or foggy, keep your sidelights on as well.

3. Wait in a Safe Place:
– Exit your vehicle using the doors facing away from passing traffic.
– Find a safe spot behind a barrier and wait there.
– Keep any animals inside the car and move up the embankment if possible.
– Always stay upstream of oncoming traffic.

4. Make Yourself Visible:
– Put on a high-visibility jacket if you have one available.

5. Get Help:
– Call for assistance using your mobile phone. If you don’t have one, walk to an emergency phone on your side of the carriageway.
– Use the free emergency phone, which connects directly to the Police or National Highways.
– Contact AtWheel Recovery at 07444400271 for 24/7 roadside assistance.

Things Not to Do:
– Don’t attempt any repairs, even if they seem simple.
– Avoid using a warning triangle on the motorway.
– Do not take pets out of the car as they could run into traffic.
– Do not stand next to your car or between your car and oncoming traffic.
– Avoid standing downstream of your car and oncoming traffic, even if you’re behind a barrier.

What to Do If You Break Down on a Smart Motorway (No Hard Shoulder):

1. Get to an Emergency Area (EA):
– If your vehicle is still drivable, aim for the nearest service area or exit at the next junction.
– If you cannot reach a service area or exit, proceed to the next emergency area.

2. If You Break Down in a Live Lane:
– Try to move your vehicle into the leftmost lane and get as far off the carriageway as possible.
– Activate your hazard lights promptly.
– If it is safe to do so, exit the vehicle on the left-hand (passenger) side and wait behind the barrier.
– Stay upstream of oncoming traffic.
– If you cannot safely leave the vehicle or you are in another live lane, remain inside the car with your seat belt fastened and dial 999.

3. Call for Help:
– If you manage to exit at an available exit, contact AtWheel Recovery at 07444400271.
– If you stop in an emergency area, use the SOS phone to contact the Regional Control Centre, who will then notify AtWheel Recovery.
– If you are in a live lane, dial 999.

How to Rejoin the Motorway:

– After your vehicle has been repaired, rejoining the motorway requires caution.
– If you’re on the hard shoulder, build up speed and watch for a safe gap to merge into the traffic.
– Be aware that other vehicles may be stationary on the hard shoulder.
– If you’re in an emergency area, contact the Regional Control Centre via the SOS phone to close the lane for you. Never leave an emergency area unless National Highways has confirmed it is safe to do so.

What to Do If You Have a Disability:

– If you have a disability, remain inside your vehicle and activate your hazard lights.
– Call 999 and inform the operator about your disability or vulnerability.
– Consider displaying a “Hidden Disabilities Sunflower” sticker on your car to indicate non-visible or hidden disabilities.

Breaking down on a motorway can be a stressful experience, but by following the appropriate steps, you can ensure your safety while waiting for assistance. Remember to prioritize finding a safe place, activating hazard lights, and contacting AtWheel Recovery for professional roadside assistance.

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