Staying Safe in a Breakdown

You are the best person to judge your own safety in the breakdown situation, however...

Prevention is better than a cure.

Ensure your vehicle is regularly serviced, carry out checks yourself from your manufacturers handbook and make sure you have sufficient fuel for each journey.

Don’t ignore warning lights.

Keep an eye on your dashboard, and stop at a safe place to carry out basic checks. Consult your handbook if you are not sure what is wrong.

Use your senses.

Listen for unusual noises, or feel for strange vibrations. If you think something is abnormal, slow down until you find a safe place to stop, before seeking advice.

If you have to stop – don’t panic!

Use the hard shoulder or a lay-by where possible, away from moving traffic. If you are unable to exit the traffic, stop as far to the left as you can and switch on your hazard lights. Only use secondary warning devices, such as a red warning triangle, if it is safe to place them.

Exit from the passenger side.

When exiting the car, do so from the passenger side away from the traffic and ensure all other occupants do so as well. If you break down on the outside lane of a motorway or on a high speed dual carriageway you and your party you will need to make your own decisions about safety.  Normally the safest place is away moving traffic and your vehicle.

Consider your pets.

Under most circumstances it is safer to leave animals in the car – but ensure windows are open wide enough for ventilation but not enough to allow them to escape. Where possible, ensure drinking water is provided.

Find a safe spot for passengers.

Ideally behind a barrier, away from the traffic. Once everyone is safe, contact the RAC. It’s helpful to program the number into your mobile phone as soon as you join, and keep your membership card in your purse or wallet.

Leave the passenger door unlocked.

So you can quickly enter the vehicle if you feel unsafe. Please remember that being hit by moving traffic is the most significant risk, so only return to the vehicle if you feel threatened and return to place of safety outside as soon as you can.

Call your breakdown provider.

When it is safe to do so, call your breakdown provider so they can help get you back on your way quickly. Breakdown cover can help you in an emergency and can make a dangerous situation a lot safer.

If you can’t get to safety, call the police.

If there is nowhere safe outside the vehicle for the passengers to wait, and there is a strong chance your vehicle could be struck, then call the police straight away with your location. If you have to remain in the vehicle keep your seatbelt on.

Please note that this information is for guidance only and not to be relied upon as advice.

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