What To Do if Your Car Breaks Down

Driveways, Motorways, Minor Roads & Dual Carriageways

In the Real World, things don’t always go to plan. Liberty Insurance get that, that’s why they’re here to help when things get real. In the first of their Real World Blog series, we look at the measures you need to take in the unfortunate event of a breakdown.

Most drivers don’t expect a breakdown, but the essential thing to bear in mind in these situations, is to stay safe. Be sure to contact your breakdown service provider right away. 

Here are a few simple tips to keep you, your passengers and other road users safe when your car breaks down.

Motorways & Dual Carriageways

By far the trickiest place to suffer a car breakdown is on a motorway or dual carriageway, particularly if you are in the outside or overtaking lane when the issue happens. The RSA has a list of recommendations which we’ve listed below;

  1. If you can, pull into the hard shoulder as soon as possible. Put your hazard lights and your side lights on and then point your front wheels away from the road.
  2. If you have a visibility vest, wear it. Visibility vests are relatively cheap and don’t take up much storage space so it’s a good idea to get a few and leave them in the car.
  3. Exit your vehicle on the left hand side, away from the traffic on the road. Be safe and stay away from the fast moving cars on the other side! Make your way up the embankment and if there is a barrier, climb over it if possible. You and your passengers should stay well away from the hard shoulder.
  4. Don’t attempt to make any repairs on the car, no matter how small they seem to be. Plenty of people have warning triangles in their car, BUT you should not attempt to place this behind your car on the motorway. There will be cars speeding by and it’s risky to even attempt it.
  5. Call the local authorities. If you do this from your mobile phone, they will need to know your location. If you use one of the roadside SOS phones on the motorway network, they will automatically know your location. Next contact your breakdown service. 
  6. If the repair services can get you back up and running there and then, that’s great but be very careful when it comes to re-joining the motorway. You’ll need to build up your speed on the hard shoulder before merging into traffic. Be aware too though that other vehicles may have stopped on the hard shoulder.
  7. If for some reason you are unable to follow the above advice, you should stay in your vehicle with your safety belt securely fastened and switch on your hazard lights. Then, as above, call 999 and wait for assistance. You should also contact your breakdown service provider to let them know.

National, Secondary & minor roads

If you break down on any road smaller than a motorway, you’ll need to do things a little differently to make sure you remain safe throughout. Again, we’ve taken the advice of the RSA to give you the best information on how to handle the situation.

  1. If you can, pull over to a safe place. Some national roads have a hard shoulder, but if there isn’t one, pull over as far left as you can.
  2. Turn on your hazard lights and if the light is poor or visibility is low, turn on your side lights also.
  3. Although the cars will be passing a little slower than those on the motorway, you should still only get out of your car on the left hand side of the road. Again, it’s better to be safe out there in the real world, so avoid those unnecessary dangers and prevent any issues occurring.
  4. Put on your high visibility vest and place your Red Warning Triangle 50 metres behind your car to alert oncoming traffic.
  5. In contrast to actions on the motorway, no matter where on the road you breakdown, be it in the middle of the road in town or out on a narrow country road, you should get back in your car once you’ve put out your triangle. That’s the safest place to be.
  6. Once in your car, ring the Gardaí for assistance and then call your breakdown service provider to let them know.

Even experienced drivers might not know the above protocols for what to do if you breakdown, but now that you’ve familiarised yourself with them, you’re ready for any breakdown. 
All Liberty car insurance policies come with 24/7 breakdown assistance with Home Start as standard and it won’t affect your no claims bonus. Get your car insurance quote online now.


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