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Motorway Breakdown: What to do | Driving Guide

Motorway Breakdown: What to do | Driving Guide

It goes without saying that no car is immune to breakdowns so it’s essential to know what exactly to do so that you and your passengers can stay safe and comfortable at all times, every time. We’ll get into that in a minute, but first let’s delve into the numbers...

As you know breakdowns happen almost everyday in the UK and they can be EXTREMELY dangerous, particularly on the motorway.

According to RAC, there are just under 30,000 vehicle breakdowns a year, with the M1 making the top 5. Altogether, an average of 19,548 call-outs have been from its hard shoulder each year (see table below.)

Motorway Breakdowns per year
M1 19548
M6 17355
M4 15283
M25 14517
M5 13661

Which brings us swiftly onto the next section, what are the reasons why people breakdown so often?

In the same study from the RAC, they highlight that the most common reasons why people breakdown is because of basic car maintenance problems such as punctured tyres and car batteries. However in almost 65,000 call-outs, no fault in the vehicle is found - making driver error the sixth most common reason of call-out (see table below).

Fault No. of Breakdowns
Punctured tyre 194549
Jumpstart (flat battery) 177916
Dead battery (replacement required) 130575
Road traffic accident 67881
Engine fault 67881
No fault found (Driver error) 64773
Alternator fault starter motor fault
Clutch - assembly 51969
Interior lights left on (flat battery) 48681

Sam Hudson, RAC Operations Manager said:

“RAC data throws up some fascinating insights into the where, when and why we breakdown in our vehicles. According to the information we have gathered, it’s possible to predict that on a Monday morning in December at approximately 8.34am, there is a good chance that there will be a number of RAC patrols responding to vehicle breakdown callouts in High Streets throughout the UK.”

With that now covered, as promised, here is a list of simple tips for you to follow in case you ever experience breaking down on the motorway.

Read on.

Move to the hard shoulder

First and foremost, if you ever feel as if your vehicle is in danger of breaking down, you will need to safely move your vehicle across on the hard shoulder of the motorway. Pull as far left and away from the road as possible, provided you can and whether it’s safe to do so. As soon as you’ve come to a halt, switch on your hazard warning lights immediately, and if it’s dark and the lights are weak, make sure to keep your side lights on. Sometimes it’s difficult to leave your vehicle clear of the road, in this case only move your vehicle if it’s fully clear off the road. If you can’t do this because you feel it is not safe to so do, then stay in your vehicle and keep your seatbelt on at all times whilst switching on your hazard warning and side lights on.

Exit your vehicle

If you can exit your vehicle, make sure you and the passengers use the passenger door on the left. Once you’ve gotten outside of the vehicle, make sure both you and your passengers stay as far clear from the road as possible to ensure your safety. Typically, you should stay on a verge or on the other side of a barrier if there is one, keeping clear view of the moving traffic, and DO NOT stand in front of your vehicle.

Call for Assistance

As soon as you’ve found a safe spot away from the moving traffic, make a note of your location, your car reg and the surrounding area. From there onwards it’s quite straightforward: Call for assistance. The breakdown assistance company will ask you for details of your car, the situation and your whereabouts. They will most likely ask you for the number on the nearest location marker to help find where exactly you have broken down and send out a recovery vehicle nearby. With this information they will give you a time frame for how long it might take; although this is difficult to predict, the average time for a recovery vehicle to show up is 48 mins.

Side note: Many breakdown assistance companies give priority to motorway breakdowns as people are more likely to be at risk of danger. So if you’ve broken down on the motorway and your concerned that it will take a long time for a recovery vehicle to reach you, then do not worry, they aim to be by your side as soon as humanly possible - depending on the amount of traffic of course.


So What happens when you don’t have breakdown cover?

In the event that you find yourself in need of help but don’t have cover, don’t panic. You can still contact and join the AA; they will come and help you, either fixing your vehicle by the roadside or, if necessary, towing you to a local garage.Problem solved.However, there is a slight downside to this. So you know, this can sometimes come at an increased price, which is why we always recommend that you have breakdown cover on your insurance.

Time to get back on the road… finally!

If all is well with your vehicle, and you’ve gotten the all clear from the mechanic and it doesn’t require being towed to a local garage nearby, then you are free to join the motorway once again. As a word of advice, use the hard shoulder to generate speed and match that of the vehicles on the motorway. Like any qualified driver, you should signal early, check your blind spots and then move back onto the motorway when it is safe to do so. We hope this advicehelps you on your travels! :)

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We are Brighton's #1 Service and MOT centre for cars and vans. We have all the latest, state of the art tools and diagnostic equipment and will alway ensure a first class service for your car or van - at an extremely competitive price.

All of our technicians are Bosch, Mercedes-Benz and/or Mazda qualified and have a wide and varied experience working with all makes and models of car and van. We only use the highest quality replacement parts for all vehicles and can provide our customers with genuine replacement parts.

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Have you ever broken down on the motorway? If so, tell us what happened?

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Driver advice
23 November 2018
Written by Ismael Soliman
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