Unfortunately, it doesn't matter how careful a driver you are or how well you look after your car, a breakdown will happen at some point. However, if you're prepared for this eventuality, it won't be such a big deal and you can ensure your safety. Whether you're involved in an accident or your car simply dies, knowing what you can do to avoid causing an incident will make all the difference.
Here's what you should do when your car breaks down:
Before you do anything else, you need to get your car off the road - or at least out of the way of traffic. If your car is having problems but is still running, pull over before it dies completely and put your hazard lights on. If your car has already stopped, put your hazard lights on and roll it carefully to the side of the road.
On a motorway, pull over to the hard shoulder as soon as you can, stopping as far to the left as possible. If you are on a minor or secondary road there may be no hard shoulder, so just attempt to pull over as far left as you can.
You should have a breakdown kit in the boot of your car, which should include a warning triangle. This signals to other road users that there is a broken down car or incident up ahead so they can adjust their speed. However, this should never be used if you break down on the motorway. The other cars will be passing at too high a speed, so it is too risky to attempt it.
If you are on a secondary road and it is safe to do so, you should place the triangle at least 45 metres behind your car on the same side of the road. Be careful when you are putting the triangle in position in case other cars are coming. At night, you should be sure to use a torch to see where you're going and so you are visible to other drivers.
If visibility is poor or if you break down at night, it is important that you leave your car lights on so your vehicle can be seen by other drivers. Failure to do this could result in an accident, causing more damage to your car and possibly injuring people.
You should not stay in your vehicle if it has broken down on the motorway, just in case it is struck by another car. Instead, be sure to lock your doors and walk a safe distance from your car. Leave the car by the left-hand door to avoid traffic and stay as far away from the road as you can.
It is a good idea to have a high-visibility jacket in your car breakdown kit to ensure that you can be clearly seen. Once out of your car, use your phone or locate an emergency phone to call for help. You should then wait outside of the car, making sure that you and your passengers are out of the way of traffic. The Motorway Traffic Control Centre provides roadside assistance on the ERT network. Solar powered Emergency Roadside Telephones are located on the following roads: M1, M2, M3, M4, M6, M7, M8, M9, M11, M18, N18, M20 and M50.
If you have broken down on a road that isn’t a motorway, you should wait in your car once you have put your safety triangle out. Once safely back in your car you should phone the Gardai and then call breakdown assistance. Breakdown assistance comes as standard with all of AIG’s auto policies and our ROI breakdown assistance team can be contacted at 01 804 4328 24 hours a day.
If you're travelling with animals, you should keep them in the car unless you know that you can keep them under control - such as if they are in a carrier. Be aware that waiting by a busy road is likely to cause anxiety for them, so they may be happier in the car while you wait for help. You should not let animals out of the vehicle unless they have a lead, as loose pets could cause accidents.
By following these steps you can ensure that the breakdown situation is dealt with properly and safely. But as with most things, the best way to deal with these issues is prevention.
The best ways to avoid car breakdowns is to ensure your car remains in full working order. It’s important to carry out regular checks on your vehicle and to have it serviced regularly. Another helpful tip is to make sure you drive as safely as possible. This will help to ensure the worst isn’t to happen. Winter driving can be particularly tolling on your cars performance, so it’s especially helpful to follow these tips to get your car winter ready.