tunnel

30 Mar Safety Tips for Driving Through a Tunnel in Europe

If your journey takes you through one of Europe’s longer road tunnels – the longest is 15 miles – it’s important to be familiar with this safety advice in case an emergency should occur.

Approaching the tunnel

  • Check your fuel level
  • Switch on the radio and tune into the traffic radio station if there is one
  • Switch on your headlights (low beam)
  • Take off your sunglasses
  • Pay attention to traffic lights and other traffic signs

In the tunnel

  • Keep a good distance from the vehicle in front
  • Observe speed limits (maximum and minimum)
  • Make a mental note of safety features – emergency exits and phones – as you pass
  • In tunnels with two-way traffic, use the nearside carriageway edge for orientation Never cross the centre line
  • Never make a U-turn or reverse
  • Don’t stop, except in an emergency

Congestion

  • If traffic slows suddenly, turn on hazard warning lights
  • If traffic stops moving completely, leave a distance of at least five metres from the vehicle in front
  • If traffic stops moving turn off the engine
  • Do not leave your vehicle
  • Tune in to traffic radio if there is a system

Breakdown

  • Turn on hazard lights
  • Pull over into a lay-by, emergency lane or as far to the nearside as possible
  • Turn off the engine
  • Leave your vehicle – wear a reflective jacket and pay close attention to traffic
  • Notify the rescue services – use an emergency telephone rather than a mobile phone which is unlikely to work
  • Follow any advice from tunnel control – wait for help in the vehicle if there is no other place of safety

Accident

  • Turn on hazard warning lights
  • Park as far to the nearside as possible
  • Turn off the engine
  • Leave your vehicle – wear a reflective jacket and pay close attention to traffic
  • Call the rescue services. Use an emergency telephone rather than a mobile which is unlikely to work.
  • Help any injured people

If your vehicle catches fire

  • Turn on hazard warning lights
  • Drive out of the tunnel if possible – but never make a U-turn or reverse
  • If you can’t drive out, drive to a lay-by, an emergency lane or pull over as far to the nearside as possible
  • Turn off the engine but leave the key in the ignition
  • Contact the rescue services – use an emergency telephone rather than a mobile which is unlikely to work
  • Only try to extinguish the fire yourself if it has just started – don’t open the bonnet it may be hot and can increase the fire
  • If it’s not possible to extinguish the fire, leave the tunnel quickly – move away from the fire and use emergency exits
  • Don’t waste time gathering up personal belongings
  • Help injured people get to safety too
  • Don’t wait to be told what to do
  • Never forget that fire and smoke can be fatal – Save your life and not your car!
  • Follow any instructions and information provided by tunnel staff

If another vehicle catches fire

  • Turn on hazard warning lights
  • Keep a good distance from the burning vehicle
  • Park your vehicle in a lay-by, emergency lane or pull over as far to the nearside as possible
  • Never make a U-turn or reverse
  • Turn off the engine – leave the key in the ignition
  • Call the rescue services – use an emergency telephone rather than a mobile which is unlikely to work
  • Only attempt to extinguish the fire yourself it is has just started. – don’t open the bonnet it may be hot and can increase the fire
  • If it’s not possible to extinguish the fire, leave the tunnel quickly – move away from the fire and use the emergency exits
  • Don’t waste time gathering up personal belongings
  • Help injured people get to safety too

Motoring organisations across Europe, including the AA, have inspected and rated around 250 road tunnels, including a number in the UK, under the European Tunnel Assessment Programme, EuroTAP.

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Barry Aldworth
AldworthB@theaa.ie