How to cope with a motorway breakdown

Blog post posted on 15/03/16 |

This week’s tips, from IAM RoadSmart's director of policy and research, Neil Greig, are advising drivers on how to cope with a breakdown on the motorway. Read our essential tips to find out more.

  • Ensure the coolant and washer fluids are topped up, the oil level is correct and the tyres are in good working condition – they all help the vehicle maintain the higher speeds usually experienced on motorways.
  • Keep a high visibility jacket, waterproof clothing and a charged mobile phone in your vehicle – you never know when you will need these.
  • If your journey is not going as smoothly as expected, stop at the nearest service station or pull over onto the hard shoulder (only in an emergency), parking as far left as possible to avoid slowing down traffic.
  • Once you have pulled over, switch on your hazard warning lights so other road users are aware that you have stopped.
  • Use the emergency roadside telephone when you need to call for help. The distance to the nearest phone will be marked on the white posts on the hard shoulder – the operator will know where you are if you use this phone.
  • Make sure you and any passengers leave your vehicle by the left-hand side. Stay behind a barrier or up the embankment. If you feel threatened, get back in, lock the doors and call 999 for the police.

Neil said: “On smart motorways the hard shoulder is used as an extra lane. If your car develops a problem on this type of motorway then leave at the next exit, or pull into a motorway service area.

“So long as you prepare for unexpected breakdowns you can avoid the experience of it becoming too inconvenient and be on your way.”


Notes to editors:

  1. Neil Greig is IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research.
  2. IAM RoadSmart has a mission to make better drivers and riders in order to improve road safety, inspire confidence and make driving and riding enjoyable. It does this through a range of courses for all road users, from online assessments through to the advanced driving and riding tests. IAM RoadSmart is the trading name of all businesses operated by the UK’s largest road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and was formed in April 2016 combining the IAM, IAM Drive & Survive, PDS and IAM Driver Retraining Academy. The organisation has 92,000 members and campaigns on road safety debates on their behalf. At any one time there are over 7,000 drivers and riders actively engaged with IAM RoadSmart’s courses, from members of the public to company drivers, while our Driver Retraining Academy has helped 2,500 drivers to shorten their bans through education and support programmes.


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IAM Press Office – 020 8996 9777

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