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How to cope with a breakdown on the motorway

This week’s tips, from the IAM’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.

  1. 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.
  2. Keep a high visibility jacket, waterproof clothing and a charged mobile phone in your vehicle – you never know when you will need these.
  3. 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.
  4. Once you have pulled over, switch on your hazard warning lights so other road users are aware that you have stopped.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
“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 Greigis the IAM’s director of policy and standards.
  2. The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving and motorcycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 90,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving and motorcycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.


Media contacts:

IAM Press Office – 020 8996 9777