Steps to take when breaking down on a motorway

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Horrifying image showing why you should never remain in your car when you breakdown on the motorway

Horrifying image showing why you should never remain in your car when you breakdown on the motorway

A driver who's car broke down on a motorway in the UK posted this picture on Facebook with an extremely important warning, after another vehicle collided with her broken down car.

This frigtening reminder posted on social media shows the importance of adhering to motorway driving advice for broken down vehicles.

The driver, Carmel Williams posted the terrifying picture of her car on the Burringham & Gunness Community Safety Facebook page. This is what she had to say:

"So people this is now my car. Having broke down at the side of the road we followed advice and got out of the vehicle, behind the safety barriers whilst waiting for recovery. If we had not have waited behind the barriers as advised at least 2 of us would now be dead, my babies were in the rear seats prior to this happening.

"An artic lorry crashed into us at speed sending the car 20m down the road because it appears, he wasn't paying enough attention to the road.


Motorway lanes and hard shoulder

Motorways are the safest roads in Ireland, but the hard shoulder on a motorway can be one of the most dangerous places you can be on the road network.

The motorway hard shoulder should only ever be used for a real emergency, not to stop so you can remove your coat or to make a call on the mobile. You should only ever stop if you have no other choice and the safest thing to do is drive a little further and to a safer place off the motorway, rather than stopping on the hard shoulder. 

Hard Shoulder

Here is some vital information and tips on how to stop safely when you break down on a motorway or any road for that matter.

1. If you start to lose power in your vehicle, try to get safely to the hard shoulder as quickly as possible keeping your wheels turned to the left. If your car is hit from behind, it will be propelled to the left and not pushed back onto the motorway causing horrific calamity. (If you cannot get to the hard shoulder, do not attempt to place any kind of warning device or triangle etc.on the carriageway. Leave your vehicle only when there is a complete and safe passage across motorway lanes without stopping.)

2. Maneuver your car as close to the left of the hard shoulder as you can. Turn on your hazard lights and leave your sidelights on. Do not take your eyes off the mirrors and exit the vehicle as quickly and as safely as possible. All passengers should alight from the left if this is easily accessible. Do not delay at the boot of your vehicle but if you have high-visibility vests or reflective jackets, put them on. Do not place a reflective triangle behind the vehicle, unless it is safe to do so.

3. All passengers should immediately exit the car and never let them stand around but usher everyone over the barrier to safety and retreat up the bank as far as possible. 

M50 Hard Shoulder

4. Do not attempt simple repairs on your car as this can put you and other motorists at greater risk.

5. Make sure you and your passengers get behind the hard shoulder barrier as soon as possible and call a breakdown recovery service. Many motorways, such as the M50 will give you emergency recovery off the motorway. 

6. If you do not have a phone, walk to the emergency telephone on your side of the motorway. You may want to follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder in the direction of the emergency motorway telephone. Never cross back over to the opposite side of the carriageway. 

7. When you reach the telephone, make sure you face in the direction of the oncoming traffic while making the call. This telephone is free and will connect you with the Gardaí/Highways Agency. Give the telephone operator full details as to your location and make sure to inform them if you are a vulnerable motorist or have any specific needs.

Hard shoulder

8. Return to your vehicle, again keeping behind the barriers, and wait for the recovery vehicle to arrive and follow their  instructions.

9. Before you rejoin the motorway after the breakdown issue has been resolved, build up your speed on the hard shoulder and watch for a safe gap in the traffic before indicating and entering the carriageway.

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



Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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