What to do if you breakdown
The risks of driving alone can be exaggerated. Be sensible about your safety but don't be afraid to drive on your own. To a large extent, peace of mind comes from confidence that the car won't let you down. Of course there are breakdowns that occur without warning, but most can be avoided, or the risks reduced substantially, by following a few simple rules.
Avoiding a breakdown
- Have the car serviced regularly by a reputable garage.
- Don't run out of fuel. Get into the habit of filling when the tank's half empty rather than waiting for the warning light.
- Check oil, water, and other fluids regularly. Your car’s manual will show you how, and specify the products to use if topping-up is required.
- Check tyre condition and pressure regularly. The manual will tell you the correct pressure. Damaged or excessively worn tyres should be renewed. Don't forget to check the spare.
- Attend to any faults promptly by a reputable garage, rather than waiting for them to get worse or hoping they'll go away.
- If a warning light stays on, check the manual for advice. In some circumstances you can drive on safely.
Don't get lost
- Plan unfamiliar journeys and try to stick to main roads.
- In-car navigation systems help if you worry about getting lost. Keep an atlas handy in case traffic forces a change of plans.
In case of breakdown
- Carry a mobile phone, ensure that it's charged and has sufficient call credit.
- Keep a coat, sensible shoes, blanket, torch, and money in the car.
- If possible drive on to a well lit, busy area such as a filling station rather than stopping in a dark, remote spot.
- Keep doors locked while waiting. A patrol/mechanic will carry proof of identity. Ask to see this before opening a window or unlocking your car.
- On motorways it's much safer to retreat up the bank, or behind a barrier rather than wait in the car. If you do 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.
- Call the AA. We give priority to AA Members in vulnerable positions.
On your journey
- Keep valuables, briefcase, laptop, handbag and mobile phone out of sight.
- Keep the doors locked during your journey and, if required, open windows only partially – particularly in town.
- You MUST stop for the police but it's quite reasonable to ask for identification through a closed window and keep the engine running until you are satisfied.
- NEVER give lifts to strangers.
- Beware of anyone who tries to signal that there's something wrong with your car, unless you know they're right and it’s dangerous to drive on.
- Wait until you're close to the car before unlocking it.
- If you park on the street choose a busy, well-lit place, and have your car keys ready as you return to the car.