Cars driving on a motorway

What To Do if You Break Down on a Motorway

There’s never a good time to break down, but one of the worst times to discover your car has decided it doesn’t want to work properly anymore is when you’re motoring along one of the 50 designated M-roads (or 20 upgraded A-roads) that stretch across the country. What do you do when the worst happens? Let Scrap Car Comparison talk you through the dos and don’ts of breaking down on a motorway.

If your car has recently broken down in a big way, or perhaps you’re concerned it might give up while you’re powering down your nearest M-road, then why not simply scrap the car altogether and beat the problem before it happens? By using Scrap Car Comparison, you’re guaranteed to get the very best price for your car, no matter its condition, and we’ll even be able to provide free collection with our buyers in operation all across the country.

Broken down on a motorway

The first thing to do if you break down on the motorway is to not panic and try to calmly and, most importantly, safely bring the car across the road and into the hard shoulder. If you’ve been ‘lucky’ enough to break down near a junction, try and take yourself off the motorway via the exit slip road and into a nearby service station or suitable location away from the motorway itself. This will keep you, your passengers, and all other road users in the safest position possible.

If you have had to pull into a hard shoulder, then safely bring the car to a standstill and make sure your hazard lights are on – for added visibility, put sidelights on, too. Never try to leave the car from the driver’s side as this will be opening the door into a live lane. Climb over the passenger seat and exit via the passenger door, before climbing over the barriers and keeping yourself a safe distance away from the carriageway. Just because your car is stopped on a hard shoulder doesn’t mean it can’t be hit, hence the need to be a safe distance away.

As soon as you are safely on the other side of the barrier, call both your breakdown recovery service and National Highways (0300 123 5000) so that you can be recovered as soon as possible and any potential warnings on matrix signs may be added. If you are using one of the free emergency telephones at the side of the carriageway, then ensure you are always facing oncoming traffic and ensure you’re clear and concise with all of your details.

Broken down on a motorway but can’t get to the hard shoulder

If you’ve broken down but can’t make it to the safe haven of a hard shoulder, then things are, naturally, going to be a little trickier. Still try to make it across to the leftmost lane as quickly as possible, but only get out of the car if you have made it into this leftmost lane and can do so safely and get out of the carriageway as quickly as possible. On this occasion your first phone call should be to 999 and inform them exactly where you are and which lane your car is stranded in. If you’re in lane two, three or even four, do not attempt to get out of the car as you’ll be putting yourself and other road users in even more danger. Stay in the car with your seatbelts and hazard lights on. 

Broken down on a smart motorway

Breaking down on a smart motorway pretty much follows the above structure, with the added confusion that there may not be a hard shoulder to aim for – or if there is it may have been transformed into a live lane at that given moment. If you can make it to a junction or service station then that’s a fantastic stroke of luck, otherwise pull into one of the emergency refuge areas, as this will be the safest location by far for you to stop in.

One thing that you must do if you break down on a smart motorway is use the emergency phone in the refuge area, giving as much details as you can about the breakdown and your location. National Highways will then set about ensuring the matrix signs are updated to warn people of your stricken car, and you can set about getting yourself in the safest place possible – behind the barrier on the side of the road.

What not to do when broken down on motorway

We’ve been through what you should do, but there are things you absolutely should not do which are of equal importance in ensuring the safety of yourself and all other road users. 

  • Never attempt any repairs yourself at the side of the road
  • Do not place a warning triangle in the carriageway at any point, whether on a motorway or dual-carriageway
  • Never stand in the carriageway or in any place that sees you standing between your car and moving traffic.

If your car has recently given up the ghost in a big way on a live motorway, then you’ll know just how scary this can be, and if the damages are too extreme to be able to fix, then scrapping, or selling as salvage, may be the best option available to you. Scrapping and salvaging is what we do best here at Scrap Car Comparison, and with specialist certified buyers in all four corners of the country, no matter where you are we’ll be able to help you find the very best price for your vehicle.

We only deal with Authorised Treatment Facilities, meaning you can be safe in the knowledge that your car or van will be seen to in line with all legal requirements and recycled according to national regulations. To top it all off, with a collection network stretching the length and breadth of Britain, we’ll even come and get your car, wherever you are, absolutely free of charge. Get started today and within 60 seconds you can find out just how much your old car or van could be worth.

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