Breaking down is not something most of us contemplate, but, it can happen to anyone, at anytime, anywhere. Most drivers are unprepared for a breakdown, but the essential thing to bear in mind is to be safe. Here are our few simple guidelines to keep you and your passengers and other road users safe when your car breaks down.
Motorways & Dual Carriageways
By far the most trickiest of places to suffer a car breakdown is on a motorway or dual carriageway, particularly if you are in the outside or overtaking lane when the malfunction happens.
- If you can, pull into the hard shoulder as soon as possible. Put your hazard and side lights on and point your front wheels to the left.
- Exit your vehicle on the left hand side and proceed to the other side of the barrier and up the embankment if possible. You and your passengers should stay well away from the hard shoulder and should not attempt to make any repairs on the car, no matter how minor they appear to be. Do not attempt to place a warning triangle behind your car.
- Leave any animals in the vehicle unless there is an emergency where their health or life could be threatened if they remain in the car. Animals must be kept on the strictest control when outside the vehicle.
- Contact the gardai. If you do this from your mobile phone, they will need to know your location. If you use one of the roadside SOS phones on the motorway network, they will automatically know your location.
- If you have a visibility vest, wear it. Visibility vests are relatively cheap and don’t take up much storage space so it’s a good idea to get a few and leave them in the car.
- If you must stay in your vehicle, fasten your seatbelts and wait for assistance.
- If you break down in the middle of the motorway or on the outside lane, stay in the car with your seat belts fastened and your hazard lights on. Ring 999 and wait for assistance.
- Before you re-join the motorway after a breakdown, build up your speed on the hard shoulder before merging into traffic. Be aware that other vehicles may have stopped on the hard shoulder.
National & minor roads
Breaking down on roads in towns and in the countryside can still be dangerous.
- Pull over to safe place to stop. Some national roads have a hard shoulder, but if there isn’t one, pull over as far left as you can.
- Turn on your hazard lights and if visibility is poor, turn on your side lights also.
- Place your Red Warning Triangle 50 metres behind your car to alert oncoming traffic. It may not be possible to place it 50 metres back, so place it as far back as you can.
- Ring the gardaí for assistance.
- Stay in the car and wait for help to arrive.