What to do if you have a breakdown on the motorway
“Don’t panic” is always easier said than done – but honestly, it’s one of the single most crucial bits of advice we can give for when you’ve broken down on the motorway. And if you’ve got passengers, it’s vital to do everything you can to keep them calm too, especially with children or pets. In our 50 years of providing very best car hire, van hire and minibus hire services here at Intack Self Drive, we know all about the best ways to help yourself get through all the stress and risks associated with a motorway breakdown – so here’s what to do first.
How to handle a motorway breakdown
Breaking down on the motorway can be a real pain in the backside and a little bit scary as well. So, here are a few measures you can take to keep yourself (and your passengers) safe.
- Stay calm and safe - if your vehicle breaks down on the motorway, the first thing you should do is try to stay calm and assess your situation. If possible, move your vehicle to the hard shoulder or a safe area on the left-hand side of the road. Turn on your hazard lights and set up a warning triangle at least 45 metres behind your vehicle. If you can't move your vehicle to a safe place, stay in your car with your seatbelt on and hazard lights flashing.
- Call for help - call for help as soon as it’s safe to do so. If you’ve broken down in the live lane of a smart motorway and you cannot reach the hard shoulder, call 999 as soon as you can. If you have reached the side of the road on the other hand and you have breakdown cover, call your provider for assistance. If you don't have cover, call the Highways England Traffic Officer Service by dialling 0300 123 5000. They will provide you with advice and assistance and, if needed, arrange for a recovery vehicle to tow your vehicle away.
- Stay with your vehicle - while waiting for assistance, if you’ve managed to make it to the side of the road then stay with your vehicle as it's safer than walking along the motorway. If you need to use the toilet or stretch your legs, wait until a recovery vehicle or traffic officer arrives to escort you to the nearest service station. If you are stranded in a live lane on a smart motorway, do not leave your car.
- Be aware of your surroundings - even if you’ve managed to leave your car safely while on the hard shoulder, it’s still essential to be aware of your surroundings and other vehicles on the motorway. Be vigilant of vehicles passing by and keep a safe distance from the road. Avoid standing or walking close to the edge of the hard shoulder, as it can be dangerous.
- Stay warm and hydrated - if you're waiting for a recovery vehicle or assistance for an extended period, make sure you stay warm and hydrated. Keep extra clothing or blankets in your car in case of an emergency.
Common reasons for breaking down on the motorway
Although a breakdown can occur at any time for a variety of different reasons, there are a few common factors that often contribute to breakdowns on the motorway. Sometimes, knowing the underlying causes can be instrumental in preventing it from happening again – so just on the off-chance, here are some of the biggest risk factors:
- Faulty batteries - if you’re struggling to turn your engine over, your battery warning light is flashing, or your vehicle won’t start at all, then the chances are that your battery is dead. Batteries usually last around 5 years, so if you’ve not changed yours for a while, it’s worth booking in a battery test with your local garage to assess how much life your battery has in it before it dies on you suddenly on the motorway!
- Alternator faults - the alternator in your car helps to generate power for your vehicle’s electrics. If your alternator fails, your battery will tend to go flat very shortly afterwards. If you notice that your car’s power isn’t what it once was (such as your headlights are dimmer than they once were, or your dashboard lights are flickering) then it’s best to visit a garage to get it checked.
- Flat tyre - a flat tyre can be attributed to a variety of factors, whether it’s an unseen pothole, debris on the road, or simply wear and tear, a flat tyre is never a welcome sight. If you have a blowout on the motorway, slow down and get on the hard shoulder as quickly as possible. To ensure your car is as protected as possible from tyre trouble, ensure its tyres have a depth of at least 1.6mm and they’re inflated to the right tyre pressure.
So, those are just a few of the reasons why you might find yourself on the side of the road in a broken down vehicle. If this is something that regularly worries you, then be sure to get your car serviced at regular intervals. And if you ever need a temporary or replacement vehicle, that's what we can help you with.
Here at Intack Self Drive, we’ve been providing our customers with easy and reliable van hire, car hire and minibus hire for more than 30 years. All of our rental vehicles come with the option to rent through daily hire, or our outstanding Flexi hire service, so wherever your intended destination, and whatever the task, we’ll have a vehicle that suits your requirements. Ready to get started? You can browse the best hire deals right here on our site, or give us a call on 01254 57811!