In the event of your vehicle developing a problem the Highway Code says to leave the motorway at the next exit or pull into a service area. If you cannot do so, you should pull on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as possible, with your wheels turned to the left. If possible, try to stop near an emergency telephone (situated at approximately one-mile intervals along the hard shoulder).
Leave the vehicle by the left-hand door and ensure your passengers do the same. It says you must leave any animals in the vehicle or, in an emergency, keep them under proper control on the verge. Ensure that passengers keep away from the carriageway and hard shoulder, and that children are kept under control.
Walk to an emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway (follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder) – the telephone is free of charge and connects directly to the Highways Agency or the police. Use these in preference to a mobile phone. Always face the traffic when you speak on the phone.
Give full details to the Highways Agency or the police; also inform them if you are a vulnerable motorist such as disabled, older or travelling alone.
Return and wait near your vehicle, well away from the carriageway and hard shoulder. If you feel at risk from another person, return to your vehicle by a left-hand door and lock all doors. Leave your vehicle again as soon as you feel this danger has passed.
Before you re-join the carriageway after a breakdown build up speed on the hard shoulder and watch for a safe gap in the traffic. Be aware that other vehicles may be stationary on the hard shoulder.
If you cannot get your vehicle on to the hard shoulder do not attempt to place any warning device on the carriageway, switch on your hazard warning lights, leave your vehicle only when you can safely get clear of the carriageway.
RAC breakdown safety advice
If you have breakdown cover with the RAC we advise calling us after following the Highway Code advice above. We can also help if you don't have breakdown cover with us.
In addition, we give the following safety advice in a breakdown situation:
You are the best person to make decisions about your own safety, and the safety of your passengers.
However, we advise you to wait away from moving traffic and your vehicle.
Before leaving your vehicle please make it as noticeable as possible by putting on the sidelights and hazard warning lights.
If visibility is seriously reduced, (generally when you can't see for more than 100 metres), you should also use the rear fog lights.
Try and make sure all your passengers leave the vehicle by the nearside doors, and that they keep as far away from the traffic lanes as possible.
Move as far away from your vehicle as possible and if there is a safety barrier nearby, move behind it – if it's safe to do so.
While you're waiting, be aware of the oncoming traffic.
If for any reason you can't get out of the vehicle, get as many people as possible to sit on the passenger side of the vehicle and put their seatbelts on. However if you can wait away from the vehicle then you should do so.
Please stay calm. We know where you are and someone will be with you as soon as possible.
If you're alone and feel in anyway threatened then return to your vehicle and wait in the front passenger seat with the doors locked. When you feel it's safe to do so get out of your vehicle and go to the safest place nearby.