Act with caution to avoid injury if your vehicle breaks down on the motorway
Every day, it seems, we see from the news headlines how dangerous it can be if your vehicle breaks down on a motorway or major road, or if you need to stop on a motorway hard shoulder. Other vehicles passing at high speed put you in an extremely vulnerable and frightening position, and it is even more perilous when you have broken down in the midst of roadworks.
Every year there are more than 30,000 breakdowns on motorways and A roads in the South East alone. The Highway Code sets down rules that should be followed if your vehicle breaks down. As well as getting your vehicle off the road if possible, you should try to alert other traffic by using your hazard warning lights if your vehicle is causing an obstruction and help other road users see you by wearing light-coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight and reflective clothing at night or in poor visibility. Keep your vehicle’s side-lights on if it is dark or visibility is poor, and ensure no one stands between your vehicle and oncoming traffic.
If you are on the motorway when your vehicle develops a problem, leave at the next exit or pull into a service area or, if this is not possible, pull onto the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as you can. Never attempt to place a warning triangle on a motorway carriageway; do not put yourself in danger by attempting even simple repairs; walk to an emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway, then return the same way and wait near your vehicle, keeping everyone well away from the carriageway and hard shoulder at all times.
If it is not possible to move to the hard shoulder, the Highway Code explains you should not attempt to place any warning sign on the carriageway but switch on your hazard warning lights and only leave your vehicle when you can safely get clear of the carriageway.
If, despite taking all reasonable precautions, you or one of your passengers sustains injury as a result of a road-side breakdown, if the court is satisfied appropriate safety practices were followed, it is unlikely you would be deemed to be at fault in full.
Emma Dryden. Solicitor, Personal Injury department
General, George Ide, News, Personal Injury Blog