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Breakdown safety

Breakdowns can happen for any number of reasons, for example, flat or faulty batteries, flat tyres, engine issues and fuel issues.

Being prepared can help avoid breakdown situations, and knowing what to do if you breakdown can help keep you, your passengers, and other motorists safe.

High speed road environments such as highways and motorways are dangerous, so if possible, it is important to try to exit these environments and move as far away from traffic as possible. 

Check out the Breakdown Safety Glovebox Guide for detailed steps about what to do if you breakdown.

What to do if you break down

  1. Make every attempt to exit the highway / motorway if possible. As soon as you realise your vehicle is going to break down, exit the highway environment. You will be much safer waiting for assistance in a lower speed environment.
    If this is not possible, pull your vehicle onto the shoulder of the road, or if no shoulder exists, as far away from traffic as possible.
  2. Turn your vehicle hazard lights on so motorists can see you have broken down (if at night leave parking lights on as well).
  3. Once you have pulled over safely:
    • Turn your wheels away from traffic.
    • If safe, pop your bonnet to show passing motorists that you have broken down.
  4. Check the surrounding environment – if safe, exit your vehicle. Driver and any passengers should exit through the passenger side of the vehicle (away from traffic) and move behind a barrier or as far away from traffic as possible.
  5. If not safe to exit your vehicle, ensure all driver and passenger seat belts are securely fastened.
  6. Call your roadside assistance provider or 13 19 40 from your mobile phone and advise of your location.
  7. If you don’t have a mobile phone and it isn’t safe to walk to a telephone, stay with your car and wait for help. Do not walk along highways / motorways.

Watch the video to see these steps in action:

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Pre-trip checks

While some breakdowns are unavoidable, there are ways in which you can prepare for trips to help reduce the chance of breaking down:

  1. Keep vehicles well-maintained and full of fuel.
  2. Ensure mobile phones are charged, and you have enough credit to make a phone call.
  3. Download the ‘Emergency +’ smartphone app.
  4. Keep a high-visibility vest and torch in your vehicle.
  5. Save roadside assistance contacts in your mobile phone.
  6. Keep a copy of the Breakdown Safety Glovebox Guide in your car.

Watch the video to see these steps in action:

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What to do if you see a breakdown

There are a number of ways you can help fellow motorists if you see them broken down:

  1. Look out for the signs of a broken down vehicle, which include hazard lights and a popped bonnet.
  2. If you think they need assistance, call 13 19 40 to report the breakdown and location.
  3. Don’t stop or pull over to assist as this can be dangerous.
  4. Move over and slow down as you pass a broken down vehicle.
Last updated
20 March 2020