How To Stay Safe If You Break Down on a Motorway

Motorway

No-one wants their journey interrupted by a breakdown on any road, but especially not on a motorway. While motorways are the safest roads we have in Ireland, the hard shoulder is one of the most dangerous areas on any road. 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.

However, if you’ve broken down on the motorway and you’re forced to pull into the hard shoulder it’s important to take all necessary precautions to ensure your safety. Here are our tips on how to stop safely and call for help.

1. Pull onto the hard shoulder stopping as far to the left as possible and with your wheels turned to the left. Leave your sidelights on and use your hazard flashers. 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 and leave your vehicle only when you can safely get clear of the carriageway.

2. 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 unless it is safe to do so, as passing traffic could hit you while you attempt to place the triangle.

3. 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.

4. Don’t attempt even simple vehicle repairs. Doing so only puts you at greater, unnecessary risk

5. Once you’re in a safe place use a mobile phone to log a breakdown on the AA App or call the AA if you’re a member (for AA breakdown call 0818 66 77 88). You should also call TII’s Motorway Control Centre on 0818 715 100 and let them know where you are.

6. 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 TII’s Motorway Traffic Control Centre. Give full details; also inform them if you are a vulnerable motorist or have any specific needs.

7. If using an emergency telephone face oncoming traffic while making the call.

8. 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.

9. 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 have a disability which prevents you from following the advice above, stay in your vehicle and switch on your hazard warning lights. If you have access to a phone or mobile, contact the emergency services and be prepared to advise them of your location.

We also have advice on how to deal with all types of road incidents here, and how to change a tyre here.