29/07/2013 - Permalink

What to do if your car breaks down

Related topics: Community / Partner organisations

News from our partners Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia and Warwickshire

With the school holidays now upon us and many people taking to the roads and motorways, the Safer Roads Partnership in and West Mercia and Warwickshire is reminding motorists to be prepared for any long journeys this summer and stay safe in the event of a breakdown.   

Drivers are encouraged to plan ahead this summer and avoid unnecessary breakdowns by ensuring their vehicle is well-maintained before setting out on any long journeys.  As well as checking to make sure the vehicle service is up-to-date, motorists should check tyre pressures and oil and water levels and top those up if needed.

The Partnership is also asking motorists if they know what to do in a breakdown and urging them to follow some simple steps to ensure they stay safe, particularly when travelling on motorways.

Anna Higgins, Communications Manager at the Safer Roads Partnership, said:

“Breaking down can be a stressful experience, especially on a motorway where traffic is passing at very high speeds.  It is vital that motorists know what to do if their vehicle does break down, to keep themselves and their passengers safe.

“If your vehicle breaks down on the motorway, pull on to the hard shoulder as far to the left as possible with your wheels turned to the left, and put your hazard lights on to warn other motorists.  If visibility is poor, you should also leave your side lights on.  You and your passengers should exit the vehicle on the left hand side and move to a point of safety behind the barrier and well away from the vehicle, the carriageway and the moving traffic. If possible, move up the bank or verge, as far away from the hard shoulder as possible.”

Between the beginning of April and the end of June 2013, the Highways Agency had 414 incidents reported to them where drivers in the West Midlands had run out of fuel on motorways.

Simon Foxall, Operations Manager for the Highways Agency in the West Midlands, said:

“The number of people breaking down simply because they have run out of fuel is alarming.  It’s not only hazardous to the driver and passengers, but to other road users as well, especially if the vehicle has to stop in a live lane.

“We want drivers to be aware of the risks and also to encourage them to check their fuel level before they set off.  It’s important that if you are travelling over long distances, that you continually monitor your fuel level.”

Additional advice for a motorway breakdown includes:

  • While you are waiting, stay aware of the oncoming traffic.
  • Stand behind a barrier when safe to do so.
  • You must leave any animals in the vehicle or, in an emergency, keep them under proper control on the verge.
  • Never attempt to place a warning triangle on the motorway.  
  • Do not put yourself in danger by attempting even simple repairs.
  • Find your nearest emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway and call for assistance.  The marker posts at the side of the motorway help give an exact location of your vehicle and also show the direction of the nearest telephone.  The telephone is free and connects directly to the Highways Agency or police who will be able to contact your chosen breakdown company.
  • If you do use your mobile phone, take a note of the number of the nearest marker post – it will help to pinpoint where you are on the motorway.
  • Wait for assistance, but remember to wait behind the barrier and as far away from the carriageway as possible.
  • If you cannot get your vehicle on to the hard shoulder, switch on your hazard lights and do not attempt to place any warning device on the carriageway.  Leave your vehicle only when you can safely get clear of the carriageway.