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AA Rescue Safety Advice

If you see a motorway accident, the most human reaction in the world is to stop and help. However, you should think first. The Garda and services like AA Rescue are trained to deal with a vehicle collision or breakdown - they will deal with the situation expertly, and will avoid the risk of further driver hazards being caused by well-meaning motorists.

  • If you've broken down it can be hard and often dangerous to stop.
  • Get your vehicle off the road if possible and warn other traffic by using your hazard warning lights, particularly if your vehicle is causing an obstruction.
  • 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.
Please view the RSA Motorway booklet for a comprehensive guide on Motorway driving:
RSA Motorway Booklet (2MB PDF)

On a motorway with a hard shoulder

You must not stop on the hard shoulder to:

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

Step by step

If an emergency forces you to stop:

  • pull on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as possible with the wheels turned to the left
  • leave your sidelights on and turn on the hazard warning lights
  • get out of the vehicle by the left-hand door and make sure that all your passengers do the same
  • leave 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 – do not use a warning triangle on the hard shoulder
  • make sure that passengers keep away from the carriageway and hard shoulder and children are kept under control – it is best to retreat up the bank, or behind a barrier if this is possible
  • don't attempt even simple repairs

Calling for help

Once you're in a safe place use a mobile phone to call the AA (for AA breakdown call 1800 66 77 88), making sure you can describe your location.

It’s a good idea to save the number for AA Rescue on your mobile now.

If you have a smart phone you can download the AA App, which uses the GPS function on the phone to find your exact location.  With the simple touch of an icon both the call and the location are transferred to the AA Rescue Centre.

If you don't have a mobile walk to an emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway – 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 Motorway Traffic Control Centre. Give full details to the operator and tell them if you are a vulnerable motorist, such as a woman travelling alone. Specially trained Operators expertly deal with any type of call and guide Road Users to the appropriate Emergency Service.

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.

Broken down? Call us now on 1800 66 77 88

Rejoining the carriageway

Build up speed on the hard shoulder and watch for a safe gap in the traffic before rejoining the carriageway. Be aware that other vehicles may be stationary on the hard shoulder.

If you can't get across to the hard shoulder

  • stopping on a running lane is extremely dangerous
  • switch on your hazard warning lights
  • don't attempt to place any warning device on the carriageway
  • leave the vehicle only when you can safely get clear of the carriageway

If you have a disability which prevents you from following the above then stay in your vehicle, keep your seatbelt on, switch on your hazard warning lights and use a mobile phone, if you have one, to contact the emergency services.

On other roads

Get your vehicle off the road if possible and warn other traffic by using your hazard warning lights, particularly if your vehicle is causing an obstruction.

  • If you have a reflective jacket, put it on.
  • If you have any fear that your vehicle may be struck by other traffic make all your passengers get out of the car and get well away from the traffic. Question whether it is safe for you to fix the car or whether you need professional help.
  • If it is safe and you have one, put a warning triangle or other permitted warning device on the road at least 45 metres (50 yards) behind your broken down vehicle on the same side of the road. Always take great care when doing this.
  • Keep your sidelights on if it is dark or visibility is poor.
  • Do not stand (or let anybody else stand), between your vehicle and oncoming traffic.
  • At night or in poor visibility do not stand where you will prevent other road users seeing your lights.
  • Use your mobile phone, the AA App or any other available phone to contact the AA (For AA breakdown call 1800 66 77 88.)
  • If you have used a warning triangle remember to retrieve it, with care, when the breakdown is over.

AA Ireland Limited trading as AA Insurance is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.