When we’re sat in our cars, we can often feel completely invincible. Sadly, this feeling is an illusion and breakdowns can and will happen when it comes to any mechanical item. If you do break down, sometimes you won’t have encountered the situation before, especially if you are a new driver – and that’s when you may panic. Panic can put you in a lot of unnecessary danger, so take a few moments know to ensure you know what to do if you’re driving and all the warning lights start to come on….
A breakdown can happen in the most awkward of places, and one of the most dangerous locations for it to happen is on a motorway, where there are high volumes of cars and HGVs travelling at high speed.
Move Off To The Side
As soon as you begin to feel any problems with the drive of the car, or you see critical warning lights on your car dashboard, you must pull off the motorway as soon as it is safe. Drive as far to the side of the emergency lane as you can and when you come to a stop, lock your steering wheel position so that it faces into the verge – if the car starts to roll, you don’t want it to get into the path of traffic. Activate your hazard lights immediately to alert other drivers to the problem, and turn on your sidelights if it’s dark. If you can’t get onto the side of the road, put your hazards on and alert the emergency services immediately.
The next priority is to get your passengers to safety. Sitting in the flow of traffic is highly dangerous. Never attempt to exit from the driver’s side – everybody must exit from the passenger side of the vehicle to avoid walking into oncoming traffic. If you have pets in the car and you cannot secure them on a lead, you must leave them in the car. The situation is unfamiliar, and many will panic and run into traffic if they aren’t restrained.
Sort Out Your Vehicle Recovery
Once everyone is to safety, you must arrange for recovery of your car. Either call a tow truck company or if you are a member of a breakdown service, arrange recovery through them. They will need to know details of the car you are driving, the situation and your location. Use Google Maps on your mobile to give them precise directions or find the nearest roadside marker to help to pin down your location. Many companies will prioritise motorway recovery due to the extra danger drivers in this situation face, so you shouldn’t be waiting too long. Many car insurance providers now offer recovery as an add-on to your policy, so make sure to check if you are already covered.
Getting Back On The Road
Wait well back from the road, over the other side of the barriers. Never attempt to fix the issue yourself, even if you think you know what is wrong. Most mechanical issues can be fixed at the roadside these days, so you may be able to complete your journey. Merging back into traffic at speed can be challenging – use the hard shoulder to build up speed, make sure you have signals on from the moment of moving off, double check all of your blind spots and only when you have plenty of space should you re-join the carriageway. Stay safe!
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