25th January 2018
What should I do if I breakdown on the motorway?
Most journey’s go off without a hitch, but the worry of breaking down is something experienced by every driver. What’s more daunting, is the idea of breaking down on a motorway, and not knowing the appropriate measures to take to ensure the safety of those in your vehicle, and also fellow motorists.
Some breakdowns are unavoidable, no matter the preventative measures you take. Therefore, it is best to be prepared for a breakdown, especially if it occurs on a motorway. Motorways have stricter breakdown regulations than single and two-lane roads, due to the volume of traffic, speed and the increased number of hazards.
As soon as you notice a defective system, reduce your speed and indicate to the left towards the hard shoulder. If the motorway does not have a hard shoulder, pull in as far as possible to the left, turning the wheels away from traffic. This will prevent the vehicle from rolling into traffic if its braking systems fail or it is collided into. Once the vehicle has reached a full stop, turn on your hazards lights to indicate to other drivers that you are a temporary obstruction. Turning on your hazards will also indicate to roadside services that you require their assistance. Once this is complete, you are ready to exit the vehicle. Always exit the vehicle on the left, so you are not opening the car door into oncoming traffic. It is always the safest option to exit the vehicle and stand back from the road edge, in case oncoming traffic collides with the vehicle. If you have pets, it is advised that they remain in the car, as they may distract drivers or be difficult to control by the roadside. If you are in a situation where you are without a hard shoulder, or are caught between a motorway and a junction, remain inside the car.
Once outside the car, you will need to contact a roadside assistance service. If you have sufficient mobile battery, always use your mobile to contact assistance. However, if your phone battery is low, you will require an emergency telephone. Emergency telephones are located on the hard shoulder at one-mile intervals. If you notice an emergency telephone on the opposite side of the motorway, do not attempt crossing the road, as you will pose a threat to yourself as well as other motorists. Once you have determined whether to use a mobile or an emergency telephone, contact a roadside assistance service. Depending on the provider, some breakdown services will not cover a breakdown within the first 24 hours of starting the policy. If this is the case, and you are not covered, ensure you select a service that provides instant cover. This however may bind you to a contract and may require a higher initial fee.
The majority of cars can be repaired at the roadside, and rarely need to be towed. If your car has been successfully repaired by a roadside assistance service and is safe to operate, you may continue your onward journey. To rejoin the motorway safely, build speed on the hard shoulder so that you reach the same velocity as motorists. This way, you reduce the risk of a collision. Ensure that you indicate early, so that drivers are aware that you are approaching from the hard shoulder. When you have been granted access, merge with the motorway.
Common breakdown causes and how to prevent them
If your car is left stationary for a long period of time or is only used for short journeys, its battery isn’t able to build charge in order to supply electrical systems with energy. It is recommended that, regardless a car’s journey purpose, the battery is checked every time before driving, as it may indicate a damaged battery rather than one that hasn’t been given sufficient time to charge.
There is very little you can do to prevent a broken starter motor, as it is the result of general wear and tear. An indication of a malfunctioning starter motor is silence followed by a single click when igniting the engine.
It is imperative that every driver stores a spare tyre in their car, and or a puncture repair kit. A punctured tyre can easily be replaced or temporarily repaired by the driver. Therefore, there is no need to wait for a roadside assistance service or to incur a premium on your roadside cover. You should aim to check your tyre pressure and tread once a month. If not, this increases the risk of bursting a tyre during transit, which can cause the vehicle to veer off the road.
Modern cars now have intricate electrical systems, such as sensors control panels and entertainment features. If an electrical system fails, a warning light will appear on the dashboard. However, the warning light doesn’t specify what component the malfunction is deriving from. Therefore, it is recommended that if a warning light does appear, you take your car to a garage for a diagnosis, before commencing on any other journey. The need to do this can be reduced if you have regular MOT checks.
At Vasstech, we aim to provide the best safety advice for both you and your car, to ensure that in case of a breakdown, you know exactly what to do. If you are still unsure about the steps to take in the event of a motorway breakdown, or you are concerned that your car is showing signs of one or more of the above listed symptoms, contact us today.