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Auto advice: What to do if you break down on a motorway. Our expert tells you how to get help and stay safe

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"Breaking down on a motorway is particularly frightening due to the speed at which traffic is travelling. Ideally as soon as your car starts to give trouble you should try to leave the motorway at the nearest exit." Picture by Nejron

"Breaking down on a motorway is particularly frightening due to the speed at which traffic is travelling. Ideally as soon as your car starts to give trouble you should try to leave the motorway at the nearest exit." Picture by Nejron

"Breaking down on a motorway is particularly frightening due to the speed at which traffic is travelling. Ideally as soon as your car starts to give trouble you should try to leave the motorway at the nearest exit." Picture by Nejron

If my car breaks down on the motorway what is the first thing I need to do?

Cars break down at the most inopportune times and often in the worst places. Breaking down on a motorway is particularly frightening due to the speed at which traffic is travelling. Ideally as soon as your car starts to give trouble you should try to leave the motorway at the nearest exit. If this isn’t possible, indicate and pull over onto the hard shoulder as quickly as you can. It’s important to move your car fast and try to park as far over to the left of the hard shoulder and turn your wheels away from the motorway. Put on your hazard lights and the car’s sidelights. If visibility is bad you should also put on your rear fog lights.

Should I stay in the car or get out of it?

Get everyone out of the car and remember to always leave the car by the passenger side and not the driver’s side. Never attempt to place a warning triangle on a motorway. It is always useful to have a fluorescent high-visibility vest or jacket in your car so if you have one now is the time to put it on.

If the breakdown is due to a minor issue that can be easily repaired should I try to sort it out?

Don’t spend time trying to repair the problem yourself. You shouldn’t try to carry out even minor repairs and that includes changing a tyre on the hard shoulder.

How do I call for help?

Ensure you have the Motorway Emergency Assistance number (0818-715-100) saved in your mobile. This is a helpline to assist roads users in difficulty. Remember also when talking on your phone to always face traffic. If you don’t have a working mobile phone then walk in the direction that you came from to the nearest roadside assistance phone box to contact Transport Infrastructure Ireland’s Motorway Traffic Control Centre. Remain behind the barriers at all times.

What should I do if I have broken down with pets in the car?

Generally the advice is to leave your pet in the car rather than risk them getting loose and being hit by an oncoming car.

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Top tip: Many breakdowns are due to running out of fuel so keep a close eye on your fuel gauge and once it approaches a quarter full you should refuel. But if the warning light appears then do not delay in filling up.

Contact Geraldine: email sundaymotors@independent.ie (not for use in an emergency)


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