Breaking down on the road can be a frustrating, unpleasant, dangerous and often a scary experience. Every year, people are killed or seriously injured while stopped on the roadside, but many drivers don’t know how to keep safe in the event of a breakdown. This article is meant to offer some advice to you, the customer with advice from the RSA website.
In the event of a breakdown, the most important thing for drivers to consider is the safety of themselves, their passengers and other road users, particularly on high speed roads like motorways. Hard shoulders are extremely dangerous places – one in 11 motorway deaths involve a vehicle on, entering or leaving the hard shoulder.
If your vehicle develops a problem on the motorway:
- If your car develops a fault but you can continue driving, leave the motorway at the next available exit and stop at a service area.
- If the problem requires you to stop immediately, pull onto the hard shoulder and stop as far away from the traffic as you can, with the wheels turned to the left, if possible next to an emergency phone.
- Never use a warning triangle on the hard shoulder of the motorway, as walking along the hard shoulder to place a warning triangle puts you at risk of being hit.
- Never, ever, sit in your vehicle on the hard shoulder, even if the weather is bad. This is dangerous as you are at risk of being struck from behind at high speed.
- Make sure that your hazard lights are on and get out on the left-hand side, and wait on the verge, well away from traffic. This also goes for any passengers that you have with you. Get to a safe distance, quickly.
- Any passengers who are unable to leave the vehicle, for example someone with mobility issues, should wait inside the vehicle with their seatbelt securely fastened.
Never be tempted to try and fix your vehicle on the hard shoulder yourself – this is dangerous. Call for help instead, using an emergency phone if one is accessible without walking along the hard shoulder or if you have a mobile on you, use this. A good tip is to always have your roadside assistance number saved to your phone, which will save valuable minutes in a potentially dangerous situation. The motorway phones connect directly to the police control centre and are numbered so that you can easily be located. Blue and white marker posts show the direction to the nearest phone.
Using the hard shoulder is legally permitted in only three instances: in a breakdown, an emergency, or if being pulled over by the police.
Breakdowns on any other type of road:
If you breakdown somewhere other than the motorway, the following advice will aim to keep you as safe as possible:
- If it is possible, avoid stopping in a dangerous place, such as on a roundabout, on a corner or near a brow. If you can safely keep driving for a short distance, drop your speed, use your hazard lights and try to pull off the road completely or in a location where you’re clearly visible.
- If you have to stop on a road, switch your hazard lights on. Only display an emergency triangle at least 45 metres behind your vehicle if it is safe for you to do so. Do not put yourself in a risky situation by putting out the triangle, and never use one on the hard shoulder of a motorway.
- Do not attempt to fix your vehicle yourself at the roadside. Call a breakdown service.
- Switch your engine off and stand as far away from the road as possible so you are not close to passing traffic.
- If you are involved in a crash that is serious, obstructs the road, or involves injuries, call the emergency services as soon as possible. If you have first aid training, provide appropriate, immediate help to anyone who is hurt.
Make sure you are prepared in case you breakdown by:
- Carrying a mobile phone so that you can call for assistance, but on the motorway use a roadside phone if possible.
- Carrying a map so you can easily explain where you are when calling for assistance. You can use a map app on your phone, but you may not have signal if you breakdown somewhere remote.
- Keeping an emergency kit in your car, which should have a torch, a warning triangle, warm clothes and a reflective jacket or vest. These can be purchased at most motor factor stores, your local dealership or often, are part of the hand over pack when purchasing a new vehicle.
- Make sure that your vehicle is well maintained, this is the best way to reduce the risk of breaking down.
Most car manufacturers currently offer breakdown assistance as part of their new vehicle package. Here at the Barlo Motors group, Our Opel franchise offers 1 year from date of registration, Nissan offer 3 years, Hyundai offer 5 years and Ford a massive 7 years, as long as you get your vehicle serviced according to the manufacturers maintenance schedule at a Ford franchised dealer.
The message of this article, is to be safe, don’t take unnecessary risks and make sure that you get to the end of your journey. In harsh weather, be extra vigilant. As they used to say all those years ago in the scouts, “Be prepared” Thanks again for taking the time to read the ramblings of your local Sales Manager, James Mc Vicker, at Barlo Motors Ford in Thurles.