Breakdowns and incidents
BreakdownsAdditional rules for motorwaysObstructionsIncidentsIncidents involving dangerous goodsDocumentation
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.
Additional rules for motorways
If your vehicle develops a problem, leave the motorway at the next exit or pull into a service area. If you cannot do so, you should
pull on to the hard shoulder and stop as far to the left as possible, with your wheels turned to the left
try to stop near an emergency telephone (situated at approximately one-mile intervals along the hard shoulder)
leave the vehicle by the left-hand door and ensure your passengers do the same. You MUST leave any animals in the vehicle or, in an emergency, keep them under proper control on the verge. Never attempt to place a warning triangle on a motorway
do not put yourself in danger by attempting even simple repairs
ensure that passengers keep away from the carriageway and hard shoulder, and that children are kept under control
walk to an emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway (follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder) – the telephone is free of charge and connects directly to the Highways Agency or the police. Use these in preference to a mobile phone (see Rule 283). Always face the traffic when you speak on the phone
give full details to the Highways Agency or the police; also inform them if you are a vulnerable motorist such as disabled, older or travelling alone
return and wait near your vehicle (well away from the carriageway and hard shoulder)
if you feel at risk from another person, return to your vehicle by a left-hand door and lock all doors. Leave your vehicle again as soon as you feel this danger has passed.
Highway Code - Rule 275 Keep Well Back From The Hard Shoulder
Before you rejoin the carriageway after a breakdown, build up speed on the hard shoulder and watch for a safe gap in the traffic. Be aware that other vehicles may be stationary on the hard shoulder.
If you cannot get your vehicle onto the hard shoulder
do not attempt to place any warning device on the carriageway
switch on your hazard warning lights
leave your vehicle only when you can safely get clear of the carriageway.
Disabled drivers. If you have a disability which prevents you from following the above advice you should
stay in your vehicle
switch on your hazard warning lights
display a ‘Help’ pennant or, if you have a car or mobile telephone, contact the emergency services and be prepared to advise them of your location.
If anything falls from your vehicle (or any other vehicle) on to the road, stop and retrieve it only if it is safe to do so.
Motorways. On a motorway do not try to remove the obstruction yourself. Stop at the next emergency telephone and call the Highways Agency or the police.
Warning signs or flashing lights. If you see or hear emergency or incident support vehicles in the distance, be aware there may be an incident ahead (see Rule 219). Police Officers and Highways Agency Traffic Officers may be required to work in the carriageway, for example dealing with debris, collisions or conducting rolling road blocks. Police officers will use rear-facing flashing red and blue lights and HA Traffic Officers will use rear-facing flashing red and amber lights in these situations. Watch out for such signals, slow down and be prepared to stop. You MUST follow any directions given by Police officers or Traffic officers as to whether you can safely pass the incident or blockage.
Laws RTA1988, sects 35 &163, and as amended by TMA 2004, sect 6
When passing the scene of an incident or crash do not be distracted or slow down unnecessarily (for example if an incident is on the other side of a dual carriageway). This may cause a collision or traffic congestion, but see Rule 283, below.
If you are involved in a crash or stop to give assistance
use your hazard warning lights to warn other traffic
ask drivers to switch off their engines and stop smoking
arrange for the emergency services to be called immediately with full details of the incident location and any casualties (on a motorway, use the emergency telephone which allows easy location by the emergency services. If you use a mobile phone, first make sure you have identified your location from the marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder)
move uninjured people away from the vehicles to safety; on a motorway this should, if possible, be well away from the traffic, the hard shoulder and the central reservation
do not move injured people from their vehicles unless they are in immediate danger from fire or explosion
do not remove a motorcyclist’s helmet unless it is essential to do so
be prepared to give first aid
stay at the scene until emergency services arrive. If you are involved in any other medical emergency on the motorway you should contact the emergency services in the same way.
First aid on the road
The following information may be of general assistance, but there’s no substitute for proper training. Any first aid given at the scene of an incident should be looked on only as a temporary measure until the emergency services arrive. If you haven’t had any first aid training, the following points could be helpful.
1. Deal with danger
Further collisions and fire are the main dangers following a crash. Approach any vehicle involved with care. Switch off all engines and, if possible, warn other traffic. Stop anyone from smoking.
2. Get help
Try to get the assistance of bystanders. Get someone to call the appropriate emergency services on 999 or 112 as soon as possible. They will need to know the exact location of the incident and the number of vehicles involved. Try to give information about the condition of any casualties, eg if anyone is having difficulty breathing, is bleeding heavily or does not respond when spoken to.
3. Help those involved
DO NOT move casualties still in vehicles unless there is the threat of further danger. DO NOT remove a motorcyclist’s helmet unless it is essential. Remember the casualty may be suffering from shock. DO NOT give them anything to eat or drink. DO try to make them warm and as comfortable as you can. Protect them from rain or snow, but avoid unnecessary movement. DO give reassurance confidently and try not to leave them alone or let them wander into the path of other traffic.
4. Provide emergency care
Remember the letters D R A B C:
D Danger Check that you are not in danger.
R Response Try to get a response by asking questions and gently shaking their shoulders.
A Airway If the person is not talking and the airway may be blocked, then place one hand under the chin and lift the chin up and forward. If they are still having difficulty with breathing then gently tilt the head back.
B Breathing Normal breathing should be established. Once the airway is open check breathing for up to 10 seconds.
C Compressions If they have no signs of life and there is no pulse, then chest compressions should be administered. Place two hands in the centre of the chest and press down hard and fast – 5–6 cm at a rate of 100/minute. You may only need one hand for a child and shouldn’t press down as far. For infants, use two fingers in the middle of the chest when delivering compressions and don’t press down too far.
First, check for anything that may be in the wound, such as glass. Taking care not to press on the object, build up padding on either side of the object. If there’s nothing embedded, apply firm pressure over the wound to stem the flow of blood. As soon as practical, fasten a pad to the wound with a bandage or length of cloth. Use the cleanest material available. If a limb is bleeding but not broken, raise it above the level of the heart to reduce the flow of blood. Any restriction of blood circulation for more than a short time could cause long-term injuries.
Check the casualty for shock, and if possible, try to cool the burn for at least 10 minutes with plenty of clean, cold water or other non-toxic liquid. Don’t try to remove anything that’s sticking to the burn.
Always carry a first aid kit – you might never need it, but it could save a life. Learn first aid – you can get first aid training from a qualified organisation such as St John Ambulance and Brigade, St Andrew’s First Aid, British Red Cross Society, or any suitable qualified body.
Incidents involving dangerous goods
Vehicles carrying dangerous goods in packages will be marked with plain orange reflective plates. Road tankers and vehicles carrying tank containers of dangerous goods will have hazard warning plates.
If an incident involves a vehicle containing dangerous goods, follow the advice in Rule 283 and, in particular
switch off engines and DO NOT SMOKE
keep well away from the vehicle and do not be tempted to try to rescue casualties as you yourself could become one
call the emergency services and give as much information as possible about the labels and markings on the vehicle. DO NOT use a mobile phone close to a vehicle carrying flammable loads.
If you are involved in a collision which causes damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property, you MUST
give your own and the vehicle owner’s name and address, and the registration number of the vehicle, to anyone having reasonable grounds for requiring them
if you do not give your name and address at the time of the collision, report it to the police as soon as reasonably practicable, and in any case within 24 hours.
If another person is injured and you do not produce your insurance certificate at the time of the crash to a police officer or to anyone having reasonable grounds to request it, you MUST
report it to the police as soon as possible and in any case within 24 hours
produce your insurance certificate for the police within seven days.
Law RTA 1988 sect 170