Highway Code Breakdowns and incidents (275 to 287)
Rules for breakdowns and incidents, including rules for motorways, obstructions, incidents, incidents involving dangerous goods and documents.
If you need to stop your vehicle in the event of a breakdown or incident, try to stop in a place of relative safety. A place of relative safety is where you, your passengers and your vehicle are less likely to be at risk from moving traffic.
The safest place to stop is a location which is designed for parking. On motorways and other high-speed roads, the safest place to stop is a service area. Other places of relative safety include
Be aware that hard shoulders provide less protection than other places of relative safety because they are so close to high-speed traffic.
You and your passengers should, where possible, keep well away from your vehicle and moving traffic. Otherwise moving traffic could collide with your vehicle, forcing it into you and your passengers.
If your vehicle breaks down, think first of all other road users and
- get your vehicle off the road if possible
- warn other traffic by using your hazard warning lights if your vehicle is causing an obstruction
- help other road users see you by wearing light-coloured or fluorescent clothing in daylight and reflective clothing at night or in poor visibility
- put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind your broken-down vehicle on the same side of the road, or use other permitted warning devices if you have them. Always take great care when placing or retrieving them, but never use them on motorways
- if possible, keep your sidelights on if it is dark or visibility is poor
- do not stand (or let anybody else stand) between your vehicle and oncoming traffic
- at night or in poor visibility do not stand where you will prevent other road users seeing your lights
If your vehicle develops a problem, leave the carriageway at the next exit or pull into a service area if possible (see Rule 275 for places of relative safety). If you cannot, you should
- move into the left lane
- pull into an emergency area or onto a hard shoulder if you can
- stop as far to the left as possible, leaving space to exit your vehicle and with your wheels turned to the left
- if you can, stop just beyond an emergency telephone
- switch your hazard warning lights on
- if it’s dark or visibility is poor, use sidelights.
- exit your vehicle by the side furthest from traffic, if it is safe and possible to do so, and ensure passengers do the same
If you can’t
- get your vehicle to the left lane or a place of relative safety (see Rule 275), and
- exit your vehicle safely to get well away from it and moving traffic,
- stay in your vehicle
- keep your seat belts and hazard warning lights on
- call 999 immediately and ask for the police. Alternatively, press your SOS button if your vehicle has one and ask for the police.
- put on high-visibility clothing if you have it and it is within easy reach
- get behind a safety barrier where there is one, but be aware of any unseen hazards such as sudden drops, uneven ground or debris
- DO NOT stand in a place where your vehicle could be forced into you if moving traffic collides with it
- DO NOT return to your vehicle even if it’s raining, cold or dark
- remain alert and aware of vehicles or debris coming towards you
- keep passengers away from the carriageway and children under control
- DO NOT attempt repairs on your vehicle
- DO NOT place a warning triangle on the carriageway
- animals MUST be kept in the vehicle or, in an emergency, under control on the verge.
Rule 277: Keep well away from your vehicle and moving traffic
- use the free emergency telephone to obtain advice and assistance
- contact a breakdown recovery service
- always face the traffic when you speak to remain aware of vehicles or debris coming towards you
- inform them if you are a vulnerable motorist such as disabled, older or travelling alone
- wait well away from your vehicle and moving traffic, behind the safety barrier where there is one
- if you are unable to exit your vehicle or if you have not stopped near a free emergency telephone, call 999 immediately and ask for the police. Alternatively, press your SOS button if your vehicle has one and ask for the police.
Communicating your location. How to identify your location to the emergency services.
eCall. Press the SOS button if your vehicle has one.