Personal Finance

Where to stand to stay safe if your car breaks down on a motorway


Do you know where to stand to stay safe if your car breaks down on a motorway? Three in five would put themselves in a danger spot, study shows

  • Only 41% of drivers surveyed would stand in the safety position outside the car
  • A fifth would put themselves in direct line of of being hit my their own vehicle if another motorist slammed into the back of it 










A poll of thousands of drivers has revealed that the majority are likely to put themselves in danger if their vehicles breaks down on a motorway.

When asked where they would stand after stopping on the hard shoulder and exiting their motor to wait for a recover vehicle to arrive, almost three fifths (59 per cent) of motorists would put themselves in a high-risk area.

This includes some who would position themselves in the direct line of where their motor might be thrown if another driver careers into the back of their stricken vehicle.

Do you know where to stand to stay safe if your car breaks down on a motorway? A fifth of motorists would put themselves in one of the most dangerous positions possible, poll finds

Do you know where to stand to stay safe if your car breaks down on a motorway? A fifth of motorists would put themselves in one of the most dangerous positions possible, poll finds

The concerning details have been exposed by the AA following a survey of more than 15,000 UK motorists.

Shockingly, over a fifth (22 per cent) of licence holders said they would stand in one of the most dangerous places on a motorway – diagonally in front of the broken down vehicle. 

Should another vehicle crash into the broken down car, this is the most likely place the vehicles will fly towards and crush people, even if they are behind the barrier. 

Breaking down with a hard shoulder

QUESTION

Imagine you broke down on a motorway with a continuous hard shoulder. Looking at the image below, please indicate where would you stand while waiting for assistance? 

ANSWERS 

Zone 1: 41% (safest position)

Zone 2: 34%

Zone 3: 22%

Zone 4: 0.5%

Zone 5: 1%

Zone 6: 0.5%

Don’t know: 1%

Source: AA poll of 15,097 respondents 

Around 1 one per cent of drivers polled said they would wait in the broken down car.

Fortunately, two fifths (41 per cent) would wait in the safest place which is behind the barrier and well past the boot of the casualty vehicle (Zone 1 pictured in infographic  above).  

The figures differ slightly should they reach an emergency refuge area on a smart motorway. As the car is in a layby, 2 per cent said they would stay in the vehicle. 

The study has been been conducted ahead of the great Christmas getaway, with millions set to take to the roads this festive period to visit friends and family they likely couldn’t spend the holidays with during a Covid-hit 2020.

Breaking down on a smart motorway with a refuge area 

QUESTION

Imagine you broke down on a motorway with an Emergency Refuge Area (ERA) and you were able to stop in the ERA. Looking at the image below, please indicate where would you stand while waiting for assistance? 

ANSWERS 

Zone 1: 39% (safest position)

Zone 2: 36%

Zone 3: 21%

Zone 4: 0.5% 

 Zone 5: 2%

Zone 6: 0.5%

Don’t know: 1%

Source: AA poll of 15,097 respondents 

Sean Sidley, AA patrol of the year, said: ‘Breaking down on a motorway is a scary experience and drivers can make things worse by waiting in the wrong place. Should the car be hit, the force of the collision could prove fatal.

‘If you can get out of your vehicle, the safest exit is normally through the passenger doors, get over the barrier, walk past the car boot and towards the oncoming traffic. This limits your contact with other road users. 

‘Once there, you should stay in that location until you are instructed otherwise. For those with limited mobility, we advise they remain in the vehicle with their seatbelt and hazard warning lights on.’

Sean adds: ‘As we head into the depths of winter with more cold, wet and dark conditions there is a temptation to wait in the car. 

‘Keeping a coat, hat, gloves, water, high energy snacks and a fluorescent vest in the car for you and your passengers can be a saving grace.’ 

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