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Sunday 4 June 2023 Dublin: 15°C
# Driver dilemma
Here's what to do if you break down on the motorway
The hard shoulder is only there for emergencies. But emergencies do happen!

BREAKING DOWN CAN be dangerous, particularly if you’re on a motorway.

Mile for mile,  motorways are some of the safest roads we have in Ireland – but the hard shoulder is one of the most dangerous areas on any road.

You should only ever stop on a motorway hard shoulder if you have no other choice and it is a real emergency. It is much safer to try and make it off the motorway rather than stopping on the hard shoulder.

However, sometimes emergencies do happen. If you have to stop on the motorway hard shoulder here are some tips to help keep you safe:

  • Try and stop near an emergency telephone.
  • Move the vehicle as far left as you can go and turn the front wheels to the left.
  • Leave the sidelights on and turn on the hazard lights.
  • If you have high-vis vests and a torch in your vehicle grab them now.
  • Get everybody out of the car and make sure they all leave via the left-hand doors.
  • Make sure everybody stays behind the safety barrier or up the embankment.
  • Put on the high-vis jackets.
  • Do not put a warning triangle on the hard shoulder if you’re on a motorway – it’s not safe.
  • Do not attempt even simple vehicle repairs on the motorway hard shoulder. This puts you at a greater and unnecessary risk.
  • If you have a mobile phone use it to call the emergency services and give them your precise location by finding the nearest Location Reference Maker (LRM) which is painted in the hard shoulder parallel to the road, every 100 metres.
  • If you don’t have a mobile, walk to an emergency phone on your side of the motorway. Follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder – the phone is free and connects directly to the emergency services. Make sure you face oncoming traffic while making the call.
  • After calling the emergency services, return back to your car and keep well away from the road.
  • If you feel threatened by someone, get back in the car, sit in the front passenger seat, lock the doors and call 999 to inform the emergency services. Leave your vehicle again as soon as you feel this danger has passed.

If you can’t get to the hard shoulder or if you have a disability which prevents you from following these steps, keep your seatbelt on, switch on your hazard lights and use your phone to call the emergency services.

Stay in your vehicle unless you can be absolutely sure it’s safe to leave it and you can get across the carriageway.

Remember, the hard shoulder is only for emergencies, not for making calls or stretching your legs or toilet stops.

READ: Review – the Ford Fiesta ST retains its crown as king of the hot hatches >

READ: Has your car been recalled? If so, here’s what to do >

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