What to do if you’ve broken down

31 Mar 2021
Last Modified:
01 Apr 2021

Breaking down can be dangerous, especially if you’re on a motorway. The hard shoulder is only to be used for emergencies, not for personal phone calls, having a stretch or toilet stops.

Broken down? Don’t panic.

Here’s what you should do.

Pull off the road as far as you can

Move your vehicle off the road if possible. If you’re on a motorway and can’t turn off at the next exit, pull up onto the hard shoulder with the wheels turned to the left.

Switch on your hazard lights

If it’s dark or foggy, keep your sidelights on too.

Stay well away from moving traffic

It’s usually safest to get out of your car using the doors facing away from passing traffic and wait behind a barrier, if possible. Leave any animals in the car. If you have one, wear a reflective jacket.

Call us on 0207 247 4301

If you’ve had an accident, call emergency services first using 999.

Let us know if you’re on your own, in a vulnerable situation or have got any children with you. We’ll contact someone informing them of your situation

If there’s anyone else you’d like us to contact to inform them of your situation. We’ll send them a message.

If you’ve broken down, please provide us with the following:

  • Your full name and VH membership number.
  • Identification such as a bank card or driving licence.
  • The vehicles make, model and registration number.
  • The exact location of the vehicle – the road you are on or the nearest road junction.
  • The number of the phone you are using.
  • The cause of the breakdown – if you know it.

There may be times when we receive unusually high volumes of calls from customers needing our help – for example, when it’s snowing or it is extremely cold.

During these periods there could be a delay in reaching you. But we are on our way.

To ensure that customers who are in a vulnerable situation reach a safe place quickly, we will look at where you are, who you are with, what your situation is and prioritise accordingly.

Always make sure that you put on your hazard lights

Make sure you’re in a safe place

Lift up your bonnet

If you can, lift up your car bonnet – so it’s easier for our mechanic to spot you when they are close. All these steps are in line with the Highway Code Rule 274 which tells you what to do if you break down.

If you’ve broken down on the motorway, please take extra care and caution.

Use the emergency phone

If you can’t pull off the motorway, walk along the hard shoulder to the nearest emergency phone. There’s one along the motorway and there are marker posts every 100 metres pointing in the direction of the nearest one.

Never cross the carriageway to get closer to a phone.

Using the emergency phone

When you use the emergency phone, the police will automatically be given your location. Just lift the phone and it connects automatically. It’s free to use and the control centre will know exactly where you are.

Tell them your registration number and that you’re with VH Recovery.

Whilst you wait for us to arrive, make sure everyone leaves the vehicle by the doors furthest from the road and stands well back from the traffic.

If you need to renew or upgrade your membership please call 0207 247 4301.

If you’ve broken down and require assistance call us on 0207 247 4301.

We’re here to help – whenever you need us. Call us 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Landline calls cost standard UK rate. Calls from mobiles vary.


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