Motorway breakdownsDriver danger during motorway breakdowns

21 October 2005

There were over 90,000 accidents or near misses on motorway hard shoulders last year because drivers still don't know what to do when they break down, according to a new survey.

It found more than one in 10 drivers exit from the driver's door into oncoming traffic - rather than correctly exiting from the passenger side.

The Direct Line Breakdown survey also estimates that over 300,000 British motorists would dangerously try to flag down motorists for assistance.

Emma Holyer, Direct Line's Motor spokesperson, said: 'In the panic of breaking down on the motorway, one in 10 drivers forget to switch on their hazard lights and over 300,000 motorists admitted they would wave down fellow drivers from the side of the road for assistance.

'Not only would this be very distracting but motorists breaking suddenly - particularly at high speeds - is a common cause of accidents on the motorway. If your car does break down don't panic - try to coast onto the hard shoulder and get out of the car on the left-hand side before dialling the breakdown services.'

According to the survey - which questioned nearly 1800 drivers - 28-per-cent of male motorists also admitted trying to fix their car on the hard shoulder, while over a third wrongly believed they should stay inside or close to their vehicle.

Motorists who break down on the motorway should:

  • pull onto the hard shoulder and stop as near to an emergency telephone as possible
  • turn the steering wheel to the left so that in the event of a shunt the car does not end up in the road
  • put the hazard lights on and exit the car by the left-hand door and move onto the banking. If this is not practical remain in the car, moving to the passenger side
  • leave any animals inside the vehicle
  • do not try to fix the car, not even a wheel change
  • call the emergency services, using a roadside emergency telephone rather than a mobile phone. This will enable the recovery service to locate your exact position quickly, and will also alert the police