Schools have broken up for the summer and many families will be planning to hit the roads in pursuit of a fun day out with the kids or a seaside getaway.
But if you are planning a road trip this summer, would you know what to do if something went wrong and how to keep yourself and your passengers safe while you wait for assistance?
Whether you break down on a motorway, smart motorway, main road or country lane, there are some steps you should always follow until you are able to continue your journey.
- Move your vehicle to the side of the road quickly and safely – if you’re on a motorway, it’s important you move to the hard shoulder as carefully as you can. Depending on the fault, your steering and brakes may be harder to operate than normal and it’s important you check for cars in the inside lanes before moving across. Once on the hard shoulder, park as close to the verge away from moving traffic as you can.
If you can’t get to the hard shoulder, stay in your vehicle unless you are certain it’s safe to leave it. Put your hazard lights on, keep your seatbelt on and call the emergency services.
If you’re on a smart motorway, where traffic can use the hard shoulder, aim to get to a lay-by or stop as far to the left of the road as you can. These motorways are constantly monitored so authorities will close the slow lane to prevent your vehicle from being hit.
- Make your vehicle visible – as soon as your vehicle is stationary, turn on your hazard lights and, if it’s dark or foggy, also leave your sidelights on. Warning triangles shouldn’t be used on motorways, but can be placed at least 45 metres behind your vehicle on a main road.
- Make yourself visible – it’s not a legal requirement to carry a fluorescent high-visibility vest or jacket in your vehicle in the UK, but it is advisable.
- Get out of your vehicle – yourself and your passengers should leave the vehicle by a left-hand door to keep them away from the flow of traffic. You should move as far up the banking or behind the barrier as you can. If anyone in your vehicle has a disability which prevents them from getting out, they should keep their seatbelt on and stay in the vehicle with hazard lights on until the emergency services arrive. Leave pets in the car, unless you are confident you will be able to keep them under control at the side of a busy road. If it’s hot, you should leave windows open and provide them with water.
- Phone for help – it’s not safe to attempt to repair your vehicle at the side of a motorway or busy road yourself. If you have a mobile phone with you, contact a rescue and recovery service when you are safely away from your vehicle. You can contact Macadams 24 hours a day on 0370 428 5191. If you don’t have a phone with you, or your battery has run out, emergency telephones are located every mile on Britain’s motorways. To find your nearest, look for the white posts that mark out the edge of the hard shoulder. They have arrows painted on them which will point you in the right direction. Be extremely careful when walking to the phone, staying well away from the carriageway. The phone links to the Highways Agency who will come and help you. There is no charge for the call.
- Return to the road safely – if the recovery technician has been able to fix your car at the roadside, you should get your car up to speed on the hard shoulder before finding a safe gap and indicating back into the flow of traffic. You will hear small stones being thrown up against the underneath of the car while you are on the hard shoulder, but this is normal.
Flat batteries, punctures and damaged tyres and faults with alternators, starter motors and electrical systems are the most common issues that cause vehicles to break down. Booking in a service at Macadams prior to your summer road trip could help to identify any problems before they cause you to break down.