What to do if you break down on the motorway

Breaking down on the motorway can be a scary experience – don’t put yourself in danger; follow our guide...

Smart motorways – what to do if you break down
Smart motorways – what to do if you break down

There's never a good time to have your car suffer mechanical problems, but it can be particularly scary if it happens on the motorway. Fortunately, following a few simple rules can help you stay safe:

  • Drive to the next junction or the nearest services if possible. If you can't, indicate left and pull on to the hard shoulder calmly and smoothly.
  • If you have to slow down quickly, put your hazard warning lights on and carefully move to the left when the lane is clear.
  • Come to a smooth stop, ensuring you’re as far over to the left of the hard shoulder as possible. Turn your wheels away from the motorway, too, just in case the car rolls.
  • Turn the car’s hazard warning lights on – and the side lights, too, if it's dark or foggy.
  • Don’t put a warning triangle behind the car. In fact, spend as little time on the hard shoulder as you can – and never attempt to repair your car on the hard shoulder.
What to do if you break down on the motorway
  • Always get out of the car through the left-hand doors – never attempt to exit on the driver’s side.
  • Leave animals inside the car; it’s safer for them and other road users if they’re left inside.
  • Call a breakdown recovery service, or if you are unable to use a mobile phone, walk to the nearest emergency phone, which will be indicated by arrows on the bollards at the edge of the Tarmac. Wait for assistance behind the Armco crash barrier.
  • Remember, the hard shoulder is only for breakdowns and emergencies, and is a dangerous place to be, given the speed of the vehicles travelling on the motorway; for everything else, leave the motorway or pull into the next motorway services.