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Safety First: Your Ultimate Car Breakdown Recovery Guide

We depend on our vehicles to keep us safe on the road, where cars, vans and motorcycles are all built to transport us across both long and short distances on a daily basis. Whether we’re filling the car boot with our weekly shop, packing up the motorhome for a mini break or giving a lift to a friend, these vehicles are the backbone of our everyday lives, and as such we hope that they won’t let us down.

Unfortunately, vehicles of all kinds can and do break down, often when we least expect it. According to recent statistics from roadside services, an average of 7000 vehicles break down every day in the UK, where this can be caused by something small like a flat tyre or a much more serious problem with the vehicle’s engine. 

A sign displaying 7000 breakdowns each year

When the worst does happen, it is important to stay calm and proceed logically, where safety should always be the top priority. Read on to find out more about how to respond if your vehicle breaks down unexpectedly.

Immediate Steps

Vehicle breakdowns can happen anywhere and to anyone. Although properly maintaining your vehicle and driving carefully can help to reduce your chances of experiencing a problem, sometimes mechanical failures are unavoidable. As such it is important to always be prepared.

The following roadmap sets out what you should do immediately following a breakdown, where your safety and the safety of those in the vehicle should always be prioritised.

  • Stay Calm - Although breakdowns can be stressful and scary, it is important to remain calm during this kind of emergency situation. Maintaining a clear head can allow you to preserve the safety of yourself and those around you.

  • Steer Away From Traffic - Before your vehicle comes to a halt, you should do your best to direct it away from the flow of traffic. This may mean pulling onto the hard shoulder or tucking into a layby. 

  • Turn On Lights - It is then essential to alert other drivers to your presence, where putting on your hazard or emergency lights is usually the best way to do this if possible.

  • Find A Safe Place - Assess whether it is safe for you to leave your car, where you should look for a place to wait out of the path of oncoming traffic. Sometimes it is safer to remain inside the vehicle if it isn’t damaged.

  • Call For Help - You should then contact a roadside recovery service, where you can call for help regardless of whether you have breakdown cover in place. If you’re in immediate danger then your first call should be to the emergency services.

A clock displaying 40 minutes

Dangerous Contexts

Ideally, a breakdown would occur on a quiet road where there is space to move the vehicle out of the path of oncoming traffic. Unfortunately this is not always the case, where more dangerous situations demand a slightly different response from the driver. The above roadmap should still be followed to some degree, but with adaptations made for the context at hand:

Motorway Breakdowns

Experiencing a breakdown on a busy road or motorway can be stressful, where it is important to proceed with the utmost caution. You should strongly consider whether it is safe to exit your vehicle once you’ve pulled onto the hard shoulder. If your engine is smoking or the car feels hot, then you should make your exit immediately, putting on a high visibility jacket if you have one to hand. Try to stand behind the highway barriers at a considerable distance from oncoming traffic and phone for help immediately.

If you are unable to pull onto the hard shoulder then you should put on your hazard lights, keep your seatbelt on and call the emergency services immediately.

Poorly Lit Roads

If you break down on a poorly lit road such as a country lane, then you could also be in danger, even if the flow of traffic remains at a minimum. Always turn on your hazard lights as soon as possible and exit the vehicle if it is safe to do so. 

You may also be in possession of a reflective warning triangle, where these should be positioned at least 50 metres from your vehicle to alert other drivers of your presence. These triangles should not be used on the motorway, but can come in handy on quieter roads.

Bad Weather Conditions

Another factor that can have a big impact on your breakdown response is the weather, where unfavourable conditions can complicate the recovery process. As with any breakdown situation, it is vital that you turn on your hazard lights as soon as possible, especially in dark, wet or windy conditions. 

As snow, ice and rain can slow down recovery times, it can be helpful to make sure that you have an emergency kit stowed away in your vehicle. This is especially important if you regularly make long journeys or if your passengers include young children. Consider packing emergency supplies such as high visibility jackets, a warning triangle, a mobile power bank and a torch. Additional resources such as adequate water provisions, non perishable spare food and a first aid kit can also make a breakdown in bad weather a little less stressful.

Getting Help

Once you and your passengers are safe, it is then time to call for help. An important part of this is working out where you are, which should be easy if you have access to your phone’s GPS. You can also provide a more exact location with an app such as What 3 Words. Alternatively, emergency phones on the motorway will alert the person you call to your location.

In most cases, your first call will be to your breakdown provider, where you may pay a standard fee to have this service covered at no extra cost. If you don’t have breakdown cover in place, you can still call a recovery service provider and sign up with them at that time. 

If you’re in immediate danger, then this initial phone call should be to the emergency services. This may be the case if you’re unable to move your vehicle out of the path of oncoming traffic, or if your vehicle looks in danger of igniting.

Roadside Assistance & Repairs

Once your breakdown recovery team has arrived, they will then be able to provide a roadside assistance service in an effort to get you back on the road. If you have a flat tyre for instance, then this is usually something that can be resolved quickly. However if the problem is more serious, then your vehicle will have to be towed by the recovery team, where it will be taken to a garage for further repairs.

Breakdown cover is usually something that you will pay for on top of your car insurance, where you may also take out a car warranty to cover you up to a set amount for potential repair costs. If you’ve experienced an accident or a collision, then you will be able to contact your insurance provider for further support.

Euroroute Recovery: Comprehensive Car Breakdown & Truck Towing Services

At Euroroute Recovery, we’re here to help if your car, van or truck breaks down unexpectedly. We aim to provide car breakdown recovery within an average of 40 minutes, so you won’t be stranded on the side of the road for long.

A roadmap to recovery once a vehicle breaks down

Our broad range of services include car jump starts, puncture repairs, and car towing, where we can also assist you if you’ve filled your vehicle with the wrong fuel type. Whether you’re driving a small car, a motorcycle or a motorhome, we’re here to take care of your vehicle. Speak to our team today to find out more about how we can help.

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