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Do you know what to do if your vehicle breaks down on the motorway? As a disabled passenger, it’s something I’ve always worried about especially as I can’t easily exit the vehicle. But it’s really important to know what to do in these situations. Here’s some breakdown tips for disabled drivers and passengers.
What to do if you break down on the motorway
Breaking down can be unpredictable and daunting. If your vehicle has a problem on a motorway, try and stay calm and exit at the next junction or motorway service area. If that’s not possible remember to:
1. Go left
As soon as you experience an issue with your vehicle, put your left indicator on and move into the left lane. Depending on the circumstances and what type of motorway you’re on, go left into an emergency area or on to the hard shoulder.
Emergency areas are spaced regularly on motorways with no hard shoulder. They’re painted orange and marked with blue and orange signs with the SOS telephone symbol to indicate distance to the next one.
2. Switch on your hazard lights
Switch on your hazard lights to let other drivers know you’re there and having trouble. Fog lights and sidelights are also essential, particularly when it’s dark or during bad weather. So, make sure you regularly check that all your lights are working before you travel.
3. Get to a safe place away from moving traffic
If it’s safe, and you can get out with any passengers, exit your vehicle and get behind a safety barrier if you can – they offer extra protection. Gather any items you may need, such as a mobile phone, coat, food, drink and medication. Keep well away from your vehicle and moving traffic, even if it’s raining, cold or dark.
4. Stay in your vehicle if you are disabled or can’t exit your vehicle safely
If you or someone in the car is disabled, or you’ve stopped in moving traffic and you can’t exit safely, it’s important to stay inside, keep your seatbelts and hazard lights on and call for help immediately.
If you’re in an emergency area, call Highways England on 0300 123 5000. If you’re not in an emergency area or feel your life is in danger, contact 999 immediately. Tell the operator you are disabled. The emergency services will alert Highways England to help keep you safe.
5. Call for assistance
The emergency phones on the side of the road are free to use and will connect you directly to a Highways England control centre. They also help to identify your location, so try to stop near one if you can. If you can’t get out of your car, you can also call Highways England on 0300 123 5000, or you can text them on 0738 028 3600.
Once you’ve alerted Highways England of your situation, call a breakdown provider for assistance. Motability Scheme customers have breakdown cover included in their lease which is provided by RAC Motability Assist. You can call them on 0800 73 111 73.
Way to be prepared and help prevent a breakdown on the motorway
Most break downs are preventable, and simple vehicle checks can help you have a safer journey.
- Keep your vehicle maintained with up to date servicing/MOT.
- Regularly check fuel, oil and tyres.
- Always make sure your phone is well charged. Have an in-car charger to keep your phone fully charged or a mobile phone power bank in case of emergencies.
- Have your breakdown provider and highways authority numbers saved in your mobile phone as well as written down and kept in your glove box.
- Keep blankets, an extra jacket, some food and any medication you need in your vehicle.
What happened when my WAV broke down
Luckily I haven’t had a motorway breakdown, but I now feel confident in what I would do if it happened. And although we live in Scotland, we often travel to England for gigs and holidays so I have saved the Highways England contact number on my phone in case we ever need it.
The only time we broke down was actually in our street where we live. We were heading off to Manchester to catch a flight to Lisbon so it could not have happened at a more inconvenient time.
Because we had broken down in our street, we weren’t in any immediate danger so I called RAC Motability Assist for assistance. Had it happened on the motorway on our way to Manchester, then I would have followed the tips above including calling Highways England, 999 and RAC Motability Assist.
You can read more about my vehicle breakdown experience: What To Do When Your Motability Scheme Vehicle Breaks Down.
Let me know if you’ve had any motorway breakdown experiences in the comments below.