Motorway Breakdowns

What to do

The AA attends almost 3,000 breakdowns on the UK's motorways each week.

Many motorists calling to report a breakdown are unaware of what to do in the event of breaking down on a motorway. Confusion seems to exist in areas such as how to exit a car safely, to knowing how to identify exactly where you are.

For anyone who does breakdown on the motorway, the AA offers the following advice:

  • Pull onto the hard shoulder as far to the left as you can with your wheels turned to the left.
  • Put on your hazard lights to warn other motorists.
  • If visibility is poor, leave your side lights on.
  • Exit the vehicle on the left hand side.
  • Get all passengers out on the left-hand side where possible and move them to a place of safety as far away from the carriageway and moving traffic as possible.
  • Try and move on to the bank or verge, as far away from the hard shoulder as possible.
  • While you are waiting, stay aware of the oncoming traffic Leave all animals in the vehicle or, in an emergency, make sure they are kept under control on the verge.
  • Do not attempt to put a warning triangle out on the hard shoulder Think carefully about safety before carrying out even simple repairs – do not put yourself or others in danger.
  • Where possible stop your vehicle as close to an emergency telephone as possible.
  • If you do not stop near an emergency telephone walk to the nearest telephone. The marker posts at the side of the motorway give an exact location of your vehicle and also show the direction of the nearest telephone. The telephone is free and connects directly to the Highways Agency or police who will be able to contact your chosen breakdown company.
  • By using the phone you will be giving the exact location of your breakdown enabling assistance to find you more easily.
  • If you do use your mobile phone, take a note of the number of the nearest marker post – it will help to pinpoint where you are on the motorway
  • Return to your vehicle but wait in a safe position, as far away from the moving traffic as possible.
  • If you are unable to get your vehicle to the hard shoulder, stay in your vehicle and call the emergency services. Do not get out of your vehicle and try to cross the motorway.

AA Breakdown Patrol of the Year Adam Ashmore

Adam Ashmore, AA Patrol of the Year, said, "It is worrying how many people do not know what to do in the event of a breakdown on the motorway. Motorways are dangerous places and by not taking the utmost care lives can easily be put at risk. Following the simple advice given can not only reduce the risk involved but also help the emergency services or patrols find you far quicker."

More breakdown advice from the AA