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What to do if you break down

Breakdown What To Do

What to do if your car breaks down

Breaking down on a motorway can be really scary, but it’s much more manageable if you know what to do. In this article we’ll guide you through the main steps if you break down on a motorway, a smart motorway, or on another road.

Motorway breakdowns

Firstly, always try to leave the carriageway at the next exit or pull into a service area. If you can’t, try to get to the hard shoulder on a motorway, or the Emergency Area on a smart motorway.

If you can’t get to the hard shoulder, Emergency Area, or safely leave your vehicle, you must:

  • Call 999 immediately
  • Keep your hazard lights and seatbelts on

If you’re able to get onto the hard shoulder or Emergency Area, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Get as far over to the left as possible, but remember to leave enough space to exit the vehicle.
  2. Turn your wheels to the left as you come to a stop.
  3. Turn on your hazard lights (and your sidelights if visibility is poor).
  4. If it’s safe to exit the vehicle, then the driver and passengers should always exit from the side that’s furthest away from traffic.
  5. Call your local highways agency to let them know that you’ve broken down on a motorway. If possible, use your nearest emergency phone. Or, call the following number on your mobile:

    • If you’re driving in England, call National Highways on 0300 123 5000.
    • If you’re driving in Scotland, call Traffic Scotland on 0800 028 1414.
    • If you’re driving in Wales, call Traffic Wales on 0300 123 1213.
    • If you’re driving in Northern Ireland, call the police on 999.
  6. To contact Green Flag call 0800 400 600 from inside the UK or use the Green Flag App if you have a smartphone.

    From other parts of Europe, call 00 44 141 349 0516.

  7. You can also text the word RESCUE, followed by your message, to 61009. Texts may be chargeable.

  8. If you’ve got a smartphone, you could use its map to try and pinpoint your location.

  9. Let us know if you’re on your own, in a vulnerable situation, or have got children with you. Also tell us if there’s anyone you’d like us to contact for you.

  10. When the mechanic does arrive, make sure that they identify you by name, and show you their ID.

Other things to consider if you break down on a motorway:

  • If you have a high visibility vest or jacket with you then put it on.
  • Get behind the safety barrier and be aware of the traffic to ensure you can see any hazards such as debris.
  • Don’t stand where your vehicle would injure you if another vehicle were to collide with it.
  • Don’t get back into your vehicle even if the weather is bad or it’s dark or cold.
  • Don’t attempt to repair your vehicle or put a warning triangle up.
  • Children and passengers must follow the advice above and be kept calm. Animals should be left in the vehicle but in an emergency can be on the verge with you, as long as they are under control.

Breakdowns on other roads

Firstly, if at any point you’re worried for your safety, call 999.

Breaking down on quieter roads in towns and cities can still be dangerous. Follow these steps to stay as safe as possible.

Pull over to a safe place
If you’re able to move your vehicle, get as far away from traffic as you can.

Turn on your hazard lights
If it’s dark or if visibility is poor, make sure your sidelights are on as well.

Give us a call
Call 0800 400 600 from inside the UK or use the Green Flag App if you have a smartphone. From other parts of Europe, call 00 44 141 349 0516.

Stay in your car and wait for help to arrive
Assuming your car is safely parked away from any traffic, it’s safer to wait in the vehicle. If you don’t know the area you’re in, you may feel safer locking the doors.

For more information about what to do in a breakdown, visit the National Highways website.

There are some simple vehicle checks that can help you prevent a breakdown from happening. Read this article about vehicle maintenance to learn more.

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