March 20th, 2020 at 7:28 am
There’s no good time for your car to suffer a breakdown however, if you’re well-prepared, the strain and stress will be taken out of this difficult situation.
Remember Safety First
Safety should always be your top priority for both you and your passengers. Much of this depends on your location when you breakdown. If you’re on a motorway and are able to get to a hard shoulder, move over quickly then stop. Make sure you move to the left as far as possible and point your front wheels to the verge.
Get everybody out of your car swiftly and then leave your vehicle with the hazard lights switched on. If it’s dark, leave the sidelights on but not the headlights. All car occupants should get out of the car through the passenger side doors since if they use the driver side’s doors they’ll be getting out in the traffic flow.
Ensure that everybody is wearing high visibility clothing if you’ve got it, and is standing behind a crash barrier. Telephone the police then telephone your breakdown service. A lot of motorways today have cameras, so you’re likely to be spotted relatively rapidly. If you have animals with you, you should leave them inside your car if you can. Don’t use red warning triangles. The motorway’s hard shoulder isn’t a safe place, with slow lane vehicles routinely drifting into it, so you shouldn’t try to place a triangle at a suitable distance behind your vehicle. Instead, remain behind the motorway crash barrier while you wait for some help to come.
In can sometimes be hard to determine whether you actually are. You may be able to remember the number of the previous junction, however roadside markers are placed at 100 metre intervals that help you to pinpoint where you’re located. You may also spot distinguishing features like motorway signs or bridges that will help you to identify your precise location. The markers at the roadside will also be able to let you know where to find the closest emergency telephone if you’ve got not mobile with you.
Country Road Breakdowns
If you break down on an unlit country road during the night, it can be very dangerous. You should apply the same rules that you would use on a motorway however it may be more difficult to find a safe place to stand where you’re away from the road. It’s helpful to get your vehicle into a lay by if you can, but there may not be one available and it might not be very safe if you try to push it.
Remember, too, that country roads often have poor mobile coverage depending on where you are, so having a Plan B is important if your phone isn’t working. It might be simpler to text a family member or friend or use a phone app to highlight wear you are or report your issue. If your phone can’t get through on a call, the other services may still work. Therefore, you should try everything.
When it’s safe, you should put down a red triangle a minimum of 45 metres from the rear of the vehicle. However, if it wouldn’t be safe, stay outside your car and at the roadside.
What If I Don’t Have Breakdown Cover?
If you have no breakdown cover but you’re close to your home, you may be able to telephone a friend or family member, or get a nearby garage to recover you. If you’re further away from home, you’ll have to telephone either the Highways Agency or a major breakdown company. You will be able to join up there and then, but you’ll need to pay and extra fee of as much as £150 if you do this. If you get your car towed to a nearby garage, this will cost about the same.
If you’re going on a longer journey, you should always be prepared. Here are a few steps to follow:
- Check the windscreen washer and oil levels
- Ensure all of your lights are functioning properly
- Make sure you’ve got a breakdown kit inside your boot
In your emergency kit, you could have high visibility vests as they take up minimal space. You should try to have a minimum of one high visibility jacket as they will ensure you stay dry and warm in poor weather. Bring some snacks like chocolate or cereal bars and some bottles of water as well as a torch and foil space blankets that will keep you cosy and warm if you have to wait for a long time. While it’s tempting to stay inside your car, it’s always safer to stay at the roadside just in case another vehicle collides with your vehicle. If you’re travelling in Europe, you’ll be legally required to wear high visibility clothing. Keep some jackets and jumpers in your boot too. You may find a warning triangle useful, but you should only put it out if it’s safe.
When you begin your journey, ensure your phone is fully charged since, in a difficult situation, you may be using your mobile for extended periods. Have a phone charger in your car too so you can revive your flagging battery.
First Aid kits are also a good idea, containing bandages, sterile dressings, paracetamol and plasters. Emergency kits are available to buy from automotive retailers or high-street chemists, however you could just make one yourself.
Preparing For Winter
Some extra items are useful in your car boot in the winter that could help if you find yourself in a challenging situation. Having a plastic spade that will clear away snow, an ice scraper, de-icing spray and some boots or shoes that are capable of withstanding ice or snow are all important.
If the weather forecast says that bad weather is on the way, respect the forecaster’s advice and drive only if you really have to. Check travel updates regularly for poor weather or accidents then avoid them whenever you can as long as you don’t have to go on a minor road that could be ungritted and impassable. Although traffic often snarls up on major roads, they’re properly lit and safer should you break down or get stuck.