What to do in the event of a breakdown: 5 simple steps

October 2nd, 2019

roadside breakdown

Staying safe is the most important thing. Sorting out your vehicle is secondary to putting yourself out of harm’s way.

It’s a stressful time for anybody to be in a stricken vehicle in the middle of busy traffic.  Here’s what to do to minimise the dangers to yourself, your passengers and other drivers.

  1. Slow down carefully and get yourself to a safe place. If you can, pull over as far as possible into the hard shoulder of a motorway or dual carriageway, or on to the verge of a road if there is space to do so. Make sure any verge can take the weight of your vehicle, then turn your wheels to face inwards when stopping in case anybody should hit your vehicle. Turn on your hazard warning lights – and your sidelights if necessary.
  2. On a Smart Motorway, stop at an emergency refuge area (ERA). Smart motorways do not have hard shoulders, so if possible, find an emergency refuge area and make sure you use the SOS phone to advise of your break down, and again when you are leaving.
  3. If you need to stop in traffic, turn on your hazard warning lights ASAP. If you are in the left-hand lane, get out of the vehicle on the passenger side if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, keep your seatbelt on and call 999 for emergency assistance.
  4. If exiting the vehicle, get away from moving traffic. Stay out of harm’s way by ensuring everybody in the vehicle gets out on the left-hand side if on the hard shoulder or parked on a verge. Get as far away from the vehicle as possible, climbing up the bank at the side of the road on motorways or getting behind the barrier on smart motorways. Leave any pets behind. Don’t use emergency warning triangles on motorways. Wear reflective clothing if possible.
  5. Call for breakdown assistance. If you have arranged breakdown cover through Quoteline Direct, call for assistance on one of the following numbers: ERS – 0800 243 783 / 01277 720718 (calling from the UK) or +44(0) 1277 235 999 (calling from Europe) or Trinity Lane – 01245 408 491 or 0330 123 0698. If you don’t have a mobile phone, locate the nearest emergency phone on the motorway using the arrows on the posts at the side of the road.


To summarise, make sure that:

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