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What to do if you break down
Breaking down can be dangerous, particularly if you’re on a motorway. But remember that the hard shoulder is only for emergencies, not for making calls, having a stretch or toilet stops.
If your car has broken down, here’s what to do to stay safe before you call us and while we're on our way.
1. Make sure you’re in a safe place
- Move your vehicle off the road if possible (watch out for any soft verges).
- If you're on a motorway and can't turn off at the next exit, pull up onto the hard shoulder. Make sure you stop as far to the left as you can, with the wheels turned to the left.
2. Put your hazard lights on
- Turn on your hazard warning lights.
- If it’s dark or foggy, keep your sidelights on too.
3. Stay well away from moving traffic
- It’s usually safest to get out of your car (using the doors facing away from passing traffic) and wait behind a barrier.
- If you’re on a motorway, move up the bank if you can and stay upstream of oncoming traffic.
- Leave any animals in the car.
4. Wear a reflective jacket
- Put on a high-vis jacket if you have one.
5. Don’t put a warning triangle on the hard shoulder
- If you’re on a motorway, it’s not safe to use a warning triangle.
- If you’re on a road and it’s safe, you can put a warning triangle at least 45m (50 yards) behind your vehicle.
6. Call us on 0800 88 77 66
- Call us if you need our help or use our app if you're already a Member.
- Don’t attempt even a simple repair if you’re on a motorway.
- 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.
All these steps are in line with the Highway Code Rule 274 which tells you what to do if you break down.
We'll help you get back on the road.
How to keep safe in vulnerable situations
If you have a disability
If you have a disability which would stop you from following our steps if your car's broken down, here's what to do:
- Keep your seatbelt on
- Switch on your hazard warning lights
- Call us or dial 999 if you're in immediate danger.
If you feel at risk from another person
- If you feel at risk, get back into your vehicle using a left-hand door and lock all doors.
- Leave your vehicle again as soon as you feel this danger has passed.
If you can’t get to the hard shoulder
- If you're in a live motorway lane, 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.
Looking for breakdown cover? Read about how it works:
- A complete guide to breakdown cover
- How to compare breakdown cover
- Family breakdown cover
- Multi-car breakdown cover
Help us find you faster
- Our app is the best way for Members to contact us. You can send us your exact location using your phone’s GPS.
- If you don't have the app, look for driver location signs on the motorway.
- If you use the nearest emergency telephone on the motorway, we'll automatically get your location.
Instant cover if you've broken down
Published: 24 August 2017 | Updated: 26 March 2020 | Author: The AA