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what to do if you break down

Broken down? Here's what to do

Vital information to keep you safe if you break down

Broken down in the UK?
Call 0800 88 77 66 or buy UK cover online.
Already have European cover, and broken down in Europe? Call 00 800 8877 6655.

Motorways are the most dangerous places to break down – there are some things you must do to stay safe before you call us and while we're on our way.

On a motorway

  • Firstly, remember that the hard shoulder is only for emergencies, not for making calls, having a stretch or toilet stops.
  • If it's an emergency and you can’t get off the motorway, pull on to the hard shoulder.
  • Make sure you stop as far to the left as you can, with the wheels turned to the left.
  • Put your hazard lights on. If it’s dark or foggy, keep your sidelights on too.
  • You and any passengers should get out of the vehicle using the doors on the left-hand side and move up the bank or stand behind the barrier.
  • Leave animals in the car.
  • Wear a reflective jacket if you have one, but don’t put a warning triangle on the hard shoulder.
  • Don’t attempt even a simple repair. Call us on 0800 88 77 66 or use the AA app on your mobile or tablet.
  • If you don't have a mobile, walk to an emergency phone on your side of the carriageway; follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder – the phone is free and connects directly to the police.
  • If you feel at risk from another person, return to your vehicle by a left-hand door and lock all doors; leave your vehicle again as soon as you feel this danger has passed.
  • If you have a disability which prevents you from following the above advice, keep your seatbelt on, switch on your hazard warning lights and use a mobile phone, if you have one, to call us or the emergency services.

If you can’t get to the hard shoulder, stay in your vehicle unless you can be absolutely sure it's safe to leave it. Put your hazard lights on, keep your seatbelt on and call the emergency services.

Never try to fix your vehicle on a motorway

On a smart motorway

If you break down on a smart motorway where the hard shoulder has been converted into a traffic lane, follow these steps:

  • Use an emergency refuge area (ERA), motorway service area or leave at the next junction.
  • If this isn’t possible, try and get the vehicle off the carriageway.
  • If you have to stop in a traffic lane, turn on your hazard lights as soon as possible.
  • If you’re in the left-hand lane, and it’s safe to do so, get out of the vehicle on the left-hand (passenger) side and wait behind the barrier.
  • Call us on 0800 88 77 66 or use the AA app on your mobile or tablet.
  • If you can’t get out, or you’re in another lane and it isn’t safe to leave the vehicle, stay in the car with your seatbelt on and dial 999.
  • If you stop in an ERA, you must use the SOS phone to contact the Regional Control Centre when you stop, and before you leave.

More about smart motorways.

On a road

  • Move your vehicle off the road if you can, but watch out for soft verges that could make it tricky to get going again.
  • Put your hazard lights on; if it’s dark or foggy, keep your sidelights on too.
  • It’s usually safer to wait well away from your vehicle and moving traffic, behind a suitable barrier if you can.
  • If you get out, take care and use the doors facing away from passing traffic.
  • Wear a reflective jacket if you have one.
  • If you have one, and it’s safe to do so, put a warning triangle at least 45m (50 yards) behind your vehicle.
  • Don't stand between your vehicle and oncoming traffic.
  • If you need our help, call 0800 88 77 66 or use the AA app on your mobile or tablet.

Re-joining the carriageway

Build up speed on the hard shoulder first and watch for a safe gap in the traffic.

Breakdown generic


If you're broken down now, we can help you even if you're not with the AA. Get instant breakdown cover online.

Help us find you faster

  • The AA app is the best way to contact us, as we can find your exact location using your phone’s GPS.
  • Without the AA app, look for driver location signs on the motorway.
  • Using the nearest emergency telephone on the motorway automatically gives us your location.