What to Do If You Break Down on the Motorway

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AutoTrader NZ
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Published 1 March 2022

1. Stay calm and find a safe spot

As soon as you realise your car is experiencing issues, try to remain calm and stay focused. Look for the nearest safe spot to pull over, such as the hard shoulder or an emergency stopping lane. Turn on your hazard lights to alert other drivers of your situation.

2. Assess the situation

Once you’ve safely stopped, assess the situation and try to determine the cause of the breakdown. If you feel comfortable doing so, pop the hood and check for any visible signs of trouble, such as loose wires or a flat tire. If you’re unable to identify the problem or it’s not safe to do so, it’s best to wait for professional assistance.

3. Call for help

Use your mobile phone to call for roadside assistance or the local authorities. If you have roadside assistance coverage, contact your provider’s helpline and provide them with your location and details of the breakdown. If you don’t have roadside assistance, you can call a breakdown service such as AA Roadservice at 0800 500 222 or any other service provider you are subscribed to.

If you believe there is a safety hazard or require traffic assistance, you can call the New Zealand Police non-emergency line at *555 or 105. The *555 number can be used to report road incidents that are urgent but not life-threatening, including non-injury crashes, traffic congestion, breakdowns, and obstructions on the highway. The 105 number is specifically for non-emergency calls and can be used to report road incidents or unsafe drivers. For emergencies or life-threatening situations, dial 111 immediately.

4. Stay inside your vehicle

In most cases, it is safer to remain inside your vehicle until help arrives. Exiting your car and standing near the motorway puts you at risk of being hit by passing vehicles. Keep your seatbelt fastened and avoid standing outside or near the traffic flow. This will help protect you in the event of a collision.

5. Use warning signs and visibility aids

If available, place a reflective warning triangle or cone behind your vehicle, at least 45 meters away, to alert other drivers of your presence. If visibility is low, turn on your vehicle’s interior lights to make it more noticeable to other drivers.

6. Await assistance and follow instructions

Once help is on the way, patiently wait inside your vehicle. Avoid accepting assistance from strangers, as it’s essential to rely on trusted professionals in these situations. Follow the instructions provided by the roadside assistance provider or the authorities to ensure a safe resolution to the breakdown.

What to Do If You Break Down in a Tunnel

If your car breaks down in a tunnel, follow these additional steps:

  • Stay inside your vehicle and keep your seatbelt fastened.
  • Turn on your hazard lights and use your horn intermittently to attract attention.
  • If possible, move your vehicle as close to the side of the tunnel as you can, without blocking emergency exits or obstructing traffic flow.
  • Call the tunnel operator or emergency services using the provided emergency phone located in the tunnel. The operator will guide you on what to do next.
  • Listen to any announcements or instructions broadcasted through the tunnel’s public address system.
  • Follow the directions of emergency personnel and tunnel staff when they arrive on the scene.

Remember, it’s crucial to stay calm and follow the guidance of professionals in these situations. Breaking down in a tunnel can be particularly challenging, but with the right precautions, you can ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Remember, prevention is always better than dealing with a breakdown. Regular vehicle maintenance, including checking tire pressure, fluid levels, and ensuring your car is in good working condition, can help reduce the risk of breakdowns. Additionally, it’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. This kit should include essential items such as a flashlight, spare tire, jack, jumper cables, reflective warning triangles, a first aid kit, a basic toolkit, drinking water, non-perishable snacks, and a mobile phone charger. Being prepared can make a significant difference in handling a breakdown situation.