Breaking down on the motorway is a nightmare that most people hope to never experience. Just the thought of being trapped on the motorway with no ability to move your vehicle is unpleasant, but you can really endanger yourself if you don’t take the appropriate steps to stay safe while you wait for assistance to come.
Standing on the Side of a motorway
One of the most dangerous aspects of breaking down on the motorway is being in such close proximity to cars that are moving at a very fast speed. These cars can hit you or cause other accidents trying to avoid your vehicle. To lessen the likelihood that this occurs, make sure to move your vehicle onto the shoulder of the road as soon as possible. For your safety and the safety of all other motorists and passengers, getting your vehicle out of the middle of the road is something that you absolutely must do to be safe on the motorway if you are experiencing a breakdown.
In some cases, it might be difficult to get your car out of the road. If you are unable to get your car out of the middle of the motorway for some reason, make sure that you move yourself to the side of the road. While this does not eliminate the other hazards completely, you will be safer on the side of the road than in a car in the middle of a motorway.
Should You Use Reflective Triangles on the motorway?
In many areas of the UK, it is customary for you to place reflective triangles down to notify other drivers of the accident. On the motorway, this is probably not appropriate unless there are very few cars traveling on the road at the time. The dangers of placing the triangles behind your car could outweigh the benefits according to research.
Use the Door Near to the Edge of the Road
When you are getting out of your vehicle, do not open the door to the side where the oncoming traffic is. Instead, climb through your car and get out of the side that is closest to the edge of the road. Once you are out of your vehicle, you should make sure to keep your distance from the side of the road. There is a possibility that someone might veer over and not see you standing there.
Instead of trying to diagnose and correct the issues with your vehicle, you should contact someone to come and assist you. If you have comprehensive insurance cover, you may already be covered for breakdown. If not, you can call and set it up on the spot if necessary. If you need to compare rates on comprehensive policies with breakdown cover, the homepage of this site has everything that you need to make a comparison.
Driving comes with risks, and one of the most inconvenient and potentially dangerous is breaking down. Breaking down on the motorway is an experience no one particularly wishes to have, but it happens to almost all drivers at some point. Know what to do in case you breakdown to minimize the risk to your person and your vehicle. You can take steps to reduce the chance that you will be injured by preparing your vehicle and yourself ahead of time.
Avoid panicking if you breakdown. Think calmly through the steps you must take to ensure your and your passengers’ safety. If you panic, you are less likely to remember important safety steps that can save your life and keep you or your passengers from injury. Run through scenarios in your head of what you would do in case of a breakdown to help you think clearly and rationally when you have a road emergency. If you’re traveling with children, this is especially important. Children watch you for cues to how they should feel about situations with which they are unfamiliar. The calmer you are, the calmer they’ll be. If they’re calm, you’re less likely to become frustrated and lose your temper in a potentially dangerous situation.
Carry tools and basic medical equipment like bandages and blankets in your car. If you or your passengers need to take medicine at certain times of the day, it may be a good idea to carry some on your person in case of a breakdown emergency. If you are in an accident and your car breaks down, it can be helpful to have these items on hand. Additionally, put reflective and warm clothing in your car in case you have to sit outside your vehicle in the dark or in the cold. Pack some non-perishable foods and water in your car as well in case you have to wait a long time. If you travel regularly with children, pack some toys or games that will keep them amused while you wait for help to arrive. Also bring other supplies your children may need to make it through a long wait. You might also have a mobile charger for your car in case your battery runs low when you are in your vehicle.
The first step in securing your safety if you breakdown on the motorway is to move your vehicle to the hard shoulder. Only do this in case of an emergency. The hard shoulder is not the place to perform other activities, such as reading a map or talking on your mobile.
If your vehicle can make it to the next services exit, drive there instead of stopping on the hard shoulder. You will be in a safer location to receive help, and you won’t have to walk along the side of the road to reach an emergency phone.
Move your car to the left of the road, and turn your tyres to the left. If you can stop near an emergency roadside phone, do so. Then switch on the hazard warning lights and your sidelights on your vehicle. Get out of your car through the driver’s door after you look carefully to see if there are any hazards on the hard shoulder or on the road that could injure you or your passengers. If you have animals, leave them in the car, or leash them if you take them out of the car. Put on reflective clothing if you have any in your vehicle, and keep children and other passengers from wandering near the road. Sit on an embankment if possible. Avoid putting out a reflective triangle near your vehicle when you have broken down.
Go to the nearest emergency roadside phone if you can. The Highway Agency operator will be able to see your location more easily if you call from this phone instead of your mobile phone. Motorways have roadside phones that are free to use every mile. Use roadside markers, which are at 10-metre intervals on the side of the road to find the direction of the nearest roadside phone. You might also use larger driver location signs that tell which road you are on, which direction you’re traveling and how far you are from the start of the motorway. These signs are on all motorway and A roads, and they are all dark blue with yellow lettering.
If you can’t get to a roadside phone, use your mobile to call emergency services on 999 or 00 800 88 77 66 55. Use the location information on roadside markers to tell the operator where you are at. Provide your general location if you can’t see a roadside marker near your vehicle. Call a breakdown company to get help. Consider purchasing breakdown insurance coverage to avoid having to pay expensive towing and repair fees. Breakdown insurance cover is very inexpensive to the fees one breakdown would incur.
Move as far away from the motorway as possible while you wait. Stay out of your vehicle. Avoid attempting to fix your vehicle. This could be very unsafe. Should another vehicle on the motorway not see you as you fix the car or sit in it, you run the risk of being hit. It’s best to be out of the car and away from it. Should you feel that you are in danger from another person on the motorway, get back into your vehicle through the driver’s side door. Put your seat belt on. Then lock your doors. Get back out of the vehicle when you again feel safe. Stay in your car with your hazard lights on if you have a disability or are injured and can’t get out.
When your car has been repaired, gain speed on the hard shoulder before you enter the carriageway again. This helps you avoid being hit from behind by another car. Remember to turn your sidelights and hazard lights off before you re-enter the motorway. Drive carefully until you reach your destination. Then consider taking your vehicle to a professional to ensure there is no lasting damage or other, more serious repairs to make. If your car must be towed, stand out of the way of the tow truck and the driver as he prepares your car to be towed.
If you are mentally prepared to deal with a breakdown and you have the necessary emergency items in your car, you will feel less stressed about the situation. You will know you have taken every precaution possible to deal with a breakdown and that you have the tools to effectively work through trying circumstances. Keep your vehicle in good repair, and have it checked by a mechanic before you take a long road trip to ensure it is as safe as possible and to avoid dealing with a breakdown.