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Motorway Break Downs

Where to stop and what to do

AA Breakdown Advice

If you've broken down it can be hard and often dangerous to stop. Here are our tips on how to stop safely and call for help.

A motorway break down

Motorway hard shoulders are for emergency use only. You should only stop if it is a real emergency and you have no other choice. It's best to try to drive to a safer place off the motorway if you can rather than stopping on the hard shoulder.

You must not stop on the hard shoulder to:

  • go to the toilet
  • use a mobile phone
  • check a route or map

What to do if a breakdown/other emergency forces you to stop

Pull on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as possible, with your wheels turned to the left. Leave your sidelights on and use your hazard flashers.

Leave the vehicle by the left-hand door and ensure all your passengers do the same. Leave any animals in the vehicle or, in an emergency, keep them under proper control on the verge. If you have reflective jackets in the vehicle wear them. Don’t use a reflective triangle.

Ensure that passengers keep away from the carriageway and hard shoulder, and that children are kept under control. It’s best to retreat up the bank, or behind a barrier if this is possible.

Don't attempt even simple vehicle repairs.

Once you're in a safe place use a mobile phone to call the AA (for AA breakdown call 01 6179104), making sure you can describe your location

If you don't have a mobile walk to an emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway – You must never attempt to cross the carriageway. Follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder – the phone is free and connects directly to the police/Highways Agency. Give full details to the police; also inform them if you are a vulnerable motorist, such as a woman travelling alone.

If you feel at risk from another person, return to your vehicle by a left-hand door and lock all doors. Leave your vehicle again as soon as you feel this danger has passed.

Before you rejoin the carriageway after a breakdown, build up speed on the hard shoulder and watch for a safe gap in the traffic. Be aware that other vehicles may be stationary on the hard shoulder.

If you cannot get your vehicle onto the hard shoulder

  • Don’t attempt to place any warning device on the carriageway.
  • Switch on your hazard warning lights.
  • Leave your vehicle only when you can safely get clear of the carriageway.

If you have a disability which prevents you from following the advice above

  • Stay in your vehicle.
  • Switch on your hazard warning lights.
  • If you have a car or mobile telephone, contact the emergency services and be prepared to advise them of your location.
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