What To Do If You Breakdown On The Motorway

What To Do If You Breakdown On The Motorway

The highway code instructs you to take the next exit or pull into a service area if your car is developing a problem while driving on the motorway. Sometimes this isn’t possible, if so you would need to pull onto the hard shoulder and stop in a safe place. Its important to be as far to the left as you can so you are as far from passing drivers as possible. If you don’t carry a phone around with you in the car, try to stop near an emergency telephone (at approximately one-mile intervals along the hard shoulder).

These are the five steps to take if you do breakdown on the motorway:

  • Pull over to the hard shoulder
  • If you want to leave the car, all passengers should always leave and enter by the left-hand doors to avoid traffic
  • Put your hazard lights on
  • Stay calm
  • Call Smart-Cover on 03333 449 247 if you have cover with us
  • Make sure to stay hydrated as you may have to wait

Items to keep in your car in case of a breakdown: 

  • Blanket – If it’s the winter, or even a late night in the summer it’s always good to keep items such as blankets, jumpers and socks in the car to keep you warm in case temperatures drop. The last thing you want is to be waiting in the cold, you will be happy when you open the boot to items that will keep you warm and comfortable.
  • Bottled water – If you’re having to wait a long time for help you want to make sure you’re hydrated and always have a spare drink with you, there’s nothing worse than being stuck without access to a drink for hours.
  • First aid kit – You never know what may happen and being near the road it’s easy for accidents to happen. Even if it’s a plaster or tissue it’s good to be prepared with a first aid kit.
  • Torch/flash light – You will probably have this on your smartphone but just in case it runs out of battery, it’s good to carry a torch in the boot as a light source.
  • Snacks – If you’re already facing an unpleasant experience you don’t want the feeling of being hungry. Keep snacks that don’t need to be refridgetered for example fruit bars.
  • Emergency flares – It’s important to be visible to other drivers, in the dark an orange or red reflective flare can be placed around the car to show your presence.

Exit and enter the vehicle on the left

When you have pulled over onto the hard shoulder and you want to exit the vehicle its very important you exit from the left (passenger side) so that you’re as far away as possible from passing traffic.

Make sure the hazard lights are on

Put the hazard lights on to instruct other drivers you have broken down. If its dark it is recommended you also put your side lights on, and if its foggy, to be extra safe, put the fog lights on. You should aim to make the vehicle as visible as you can so that other drivers can see you in all types of weather - If its foggy and you can’t see for more than 100 metres this indicates visibility is poor which also means other drivers cannot see you clearly until close.

Leave children and pets in the vehicle

Motorways can be dangerous, and children and pets don’t always know the correct way to be safe. If you have broken down it is better to keep both pets and young children inside the vehicle, so they are kept safe. If there is an emergency, then take them out of the vehicle but make sure they are being looked after and under correct control.

Call for help (breakdown)

Once you have pulled over on to the hard shoulder then call for breakdown help. If you have breakdown cover with Smart Cover then call 03333 449 247. Stay calm and wait for help.

Mobile phone not in use? Use the emergency phone

If your mobile phone has run out of battery or even if you don’t have a mobile phone, then use the emergency telephone. These are located every mile along the hard shoulder, they are in a bright orange box, so you won’t miss it, and just so you know, the telephone is free of charge.

Re-joining the Carriageway

If your vehicle is ready to set off and the problem is fixed, then you can re join the carriageway carefully. Don’t rush off, make sure its safe to go, be patient and wait for a big enough gap in the traffic. Depending where you are on the hard shoulder you can use the hard shoulder to gain speed before re-joining.


Don’t forget here at Smart Cover we offermotor breakdown insurance, if you break down we make sure help is on the way and you’re back on the road as soon as possible. Get a quote today.


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