Road safety & breakdowns

The most important piece of road safety advice anyone will give if you car is breaking down is to STAY SAFE. Always make sure you and your passengers are out of danger, and any animals are calm, and under control. The following points are also worth bearing in mind.

Before travelling :

It might seem obvious but regular checks on your vehicle can help prevent many breakdown situations. On a frequent basis or before a long journey, check your oil and water levels, the pressure of the tyres on your car (do you have >winter tyres), and any spares. Also check lights, spark plugs and anti-freeze, especially in winter.

What to carry with you:

Your car should always carry a spare tyre and if you are confident of changing it yourself the appropriate kit and instructions. Also include in your glove box details of your Breakdown Policy and the emergency numbers to dial.

Although not compulsory reflective clothing or hazard warning gadgets such as a warning triangle can be useful, particularly in an emergency when on the roadside or motorway hard shoulder. It will be important to make your vehicle as visible as possible in this situation.

SAFETY is paramount in any breakdown situation, so NEVER do any of the following unless it is SAFE to do so :

  • NEVER use a mobile phone if there is a risk of a petrol leak
  • NEVER leave your vehicle unless it is safe to do so
  • NEVER put out warning signals/equipment on a motorway, or if there is general danger from on-coming traffic
  • If you leave the vehicle, NEVER stand between it and oncoming traffic, or obstruct any lights that you NEED road users to see
  • Never attempt repairs on a motorway, even simple ones

Additional points:

ONLY stay on the roadside or motorway hard shoulder in an emergency, when there is no other option. Otherwise try and take the car off the road and out of the traffic before calling for help.

  • If you have broken down call the emergency services or your Breakdown Cover provider. Keep these numbers with you or logged in to your mobile phone
  • When ringing for assistance keep an eye out for any road signs or landmarks to help the patrol locate you, and be ready to give details of your vehicle and anything you know about the problem
  • When ringing for help always inform the breakdown company if you feel vulnerable, and ask for ID when help arrives

Additional advice:

Most motoring organisations will carry advice and guidelines for motorists, or for specific safety advice for motorway breakdowns you can also check out ‘Survive’. Survive is a partnership between the Highways Agency, Police, and Motoring Organisations to promote road safety. They produce a leaflet on what to do if you breakdown on a motorway.