Motorways are one of the safest places to drive, but if you do feel your vehicle is breaking down or in need of a emergency repair, you may well feel anxious about the prospect of being able to pull over safety, especially with cars travelling at speed very close to you.
Now that most main routes have Smart Motorways, there is an different level of anxiety for drivers to cope with as there may not be a hard shoulder to use. On a Smart Motorway that is running an ‘all lanes’ configuration, drivers are advised to use the Emergency Refuge Areas(ERA) which are located every 1.5 miles – they can be identified by a blue sign containing an orange SOS telephone symbol. You must use the emergency telephone within the ERA to speak to the Regional Traffic Control Centre. They will send someone to assist you.
If you cannot pull into an ERA then try to pull as close to the nearside boundary/verge as possible. Leave the vehicle by the left-hand doors and encourage passengers to do the same. Keep passengers well away from the carriageway, standing behind the crash barrier.
If your car is stranded in a live lane, call 999 for emergency help, then contact your breakdown cover provider. Don’t put yourself at risk. Stay in your car, keep your seat belt on and switch on your hazard warning lights and sidelights. Never attempt to leave your vehicle to cross the carriageway.
If you can manage to use the hard shoulder, stop as far to the left as possible and turn your wheels to the left. If you have a pet with you they must be left in the vehicle unless there is an emergency where they should be kept under proper control behind the crash barrier.
In order to find the emergency telephone, follow the arrows on the marker posts along the hard shoulder, they are located every 100 metres. Calls are connected directly to the relevant highway authority Regional Control Centre. Do not worry – you will not need any money to use an emergency telephone.
You should always try to use the emergency telephone rather than a mobile phone as you will go through to the correct people sooner, meaning that you will be located and helped earlier than if you used your mobile to get assistance.
You will need to:
- Lift the handset and face the traffic when you speak on the phone.
- Give full details of your situation.
- Give the number of the nearest market post.
- Inform the Highways Agency or police if you are a vulnerable motorist; disabled, older or travelling alone.
If you use your mobile phone, use a free mapping service to find your location this will help you let the breakdown service where you are. You can alternatively give the marker post number to help your breakdown recovery operator or police to locate you.
lf you breakdown, you will be more likely to be helped by the Highways Agency rather than one of the three main emergency services.