Motorway Breakdown Advice

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 onto 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).

Already broken down? 

If you've currently broken down contact us on 0330 2000 999.
This can be used by both RAC Members and non-members.

Exit the vehicle on the left

Once you have pulled over onto the hard shoulder and the vehicle has come to a halt, exit the vehicle. You should leave the vehicle by the left-hand door - the passenger side - so that you’re not at risk of oncoming traffic. Make sure all passengers do the same, and that they keep well away from the carriageway.

Put the hazard lights on, and, if it’s dark, put your side lights on too. If it’s foggy, put the fog lights on. Generally, if you can’t see for more than 100 metres, the visibility is poor and that’s when your fog lights should be used.

Your aim is to make the vehicle as visible as possible, especially to other motorists. Don’t put a warning triangle behind the car.

Leave pets in the vehicle

It’s not considered safe to let pets and animals out of the vehicle. The Highway Code advises that they be left in the vehicle - unless you consider it to be an emergency situation. If that’s the case, take them out of the vehicle but make sure they are kept under control at all times. The risks of unrestrained pets near the motorway and fast-moving vehicles are obvious and represent danger.

Call for breakdown help

You should then call for breakdown help. If you have breakdown cover and are a member of the RAC call 0333 2000 999 - but you can also call if you’re a non-member, too. Try to stay calm and wait for help and support to arrive.

No mobile phone? Use the emergency phone

If you don’t have access to a mobile phone - or the battery has drained - then you need to use an emergency telephone. These are located at one-mile intervals along the hard shoulder and are easy to identify because they’re in bright orange boxes.

If you’ve broken down, you’ll need to walk to an emergency phone. Face the oncoming traffic and follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder. The emergency telephone is free of charge and connects directly to the Highways Agency or the police.

Always face the traffic when you speak on the phone. Give as many details as you can - including your location - and inform the Highways Agency or police if you are a vulnerable motorist such as disabled, travelling alone, older, or with small children.

Returning to your vehicle

Once the call is made, walk back to your vehicle and wait. Stay well away from the carriageway and hard shoulder. If you have reason to feel at risk from another person at this time, get into the vehicle - from the left-hand side - and lock all the doors.

Rejoining the carriageway

If your vehicle has been started again and the fault fixed, re-join the carriageway carefully. Be patient and wait for a safe gap in the traffic. If possible, use the hard shoulder to build up speed so you’re entering the carriageway with some momentum rather than slowly. Ideally, you’ll rejoin the carriageway when the traffic volume is low.

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