Carriageways and Motorways
These are potentially the most dangerous roads on which a breakdown can occur due to the amount of cars present and the speeds they attain.
Pulling over on the hard shoulder of a motorway is usually prohibited; except of course if your vehicle suffers a failure. If this is the case then you obviously have no other choice, and should follow the following five steps:
- Park as far to the left as possible in order to ensure maximum distance between your vehicle and the moving traffic. It is recommended that you point your wheels towards the grass verge in the event of your car rolling. You should then active you hazard warning lights so that your vehicle becomes more visible to others.
- It isn’t just your vehicle that needs to be seen. Make sure that you wear reflective jacket if possible (available in most emergency breakdown kits). It is then vital that you get all vehicle occupants to exit through the left door so that they do not exit into the path of passing traffic.
- Contact your breakdown cover provider, informing them of your location. If you don’t have a mobile phone with you then proceed with caution to the nearest roadside emergency telephone which will patch you through to the highways agency.
- Wait for assistance to reach you. It is vital that you DO NOT attempt repairs yourself!
- If your vehicle is made operational once again at the side of the road by your breakdown cover provider, then make sure that find a safe gap in which to rejoin and always keep an eye out for any other vehicles which may also be stationary on the hard shoulder.
What if I can not get onto the hard shoulder?
If you are unable to get to the hard shoulder, please bear in mind that you are in a very dangerous position and proceed with caution. Immediately switch on your hazard warning lights but do not attempt to place any warning instruments such as a warning triangle or cones on the road.
Only leave your vehicle if you believe that an opportunity to safely get clear of the carriageway/motorway presents itself. If you happen to have a disability preventing this, then remain in your vehicle with your hazard lights on. Either way, you should then phone emergency services and follow this up by contacting your breakdown cover provider.
On quieter roads
You might not be in as much danger if you breakdown on quieter side roads; but breaking down anywhere is always potentially dangerous, particularly if you are obstructing other vehicles.
If this is the case, then follow these alternative five steps:
- Active your hazard warning lights and put on a reflective jacket (if possible). Put your sidelights on in dark, foggy or wet conditions so that other road users have a better chance of seeing your vehicle.
- Get passengers safely away from the vehicle when the road is clear if you feel that there is a possibility of your car being hit by other road users.
- Put up a warning triangle about 50 yards behind your vehicle on the same side of the road so that other motorists have time to prepare.
- Phone your breakdown cover provider and wait for assistance.
- If your vehicle is made operational again at the side of the road; make sure that you carefully retrieve your warning triangle and ensure a safe gap in the traffic before moving off.
What if I don’t have breakdown cover?
If you don’t have a breakdown cover policy in place when you experience a failure, then you have three possible options.
One option is to phone a local garage, who will normally charge a call out fee which is about £40. On top of this you will usually be charged about £1.50 for each mile you are towed. This can work out very expensive and can also be very troublesome, particularly if you are in an unknown location and unaware of the location of the nearest garage.
Breaking down on a motorway or carriageway is not only the most dangerous place to experience a failure, but can also work out as the most expensive as an alternative if you are unable to locate a local garage is to contact the highways agency rather than a breakdown cover provider, who will tow your vehicle to a local garage. The fees charged for this unplanned service have become an area of controversy having escalated significantly in recent years with fees of at least £105 to be expected.
Another option would be to join up to a breakdown cover provider on the spot. You would be charged an additional fee for this, usually between £65 and £90; but this would guarantee that you would be attended to like any other breakdown cover customer; having your vehicle either repaired at the side of the road or towed to a local garage. This is cheaper than the highways agency option and also ensures that you will be covered by the provider for the following 12 months. However, it would work out even cheaper if you plan ahead and arrange for an annual breakdown cover policy to be put in place before reliability issues rear their head.
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