You can prepare your vehicle as much as possible to prevent mechanical problems but sometimes breakdowns just happen. Make sure you know what to do when you break down with your kids in the car.
1.Stop the car somewhere safe
Pull over to the left as far as possible, with your wheels turned to the left.
If you break down on a highway or motorway, pull over on the hard shoulder, which is for emergency stops. If you’re unable to reach the hard shoulder, turn on your hazard lights as soon as possible.
2.Make sure your car is visible
Once you’ve pulled over, turn on your hazard lights. If you break down at night, keep your headlights on too so that other drivers can see your vehicle. Explain to your kids that the car has broken and you will need to wait for someone to come and fix it.
3.Get out of the car
If you’ve broken down on the freeway, sitting in the car next to fast-moving traffic is very risky. You and your children should get out of the car using the left-hand doors to avoid any passing traffic and stand behind the guard rail.
If you don’t feel safe getting out of the car – for example, if you feel at risk from another person – stay inside the car with the doors locked until it is safe to leave the vehicle.
It’s best to leave any pets in the car, as you don’t want them to run onto the road, but make sure you keep the windows open so animals don’t overheat.
4.Phone for help
Call the RAC or your roadside assistance provider and tell them where you have broken down. Most roadside assistance companies provide on-the-spot joining options for non-members requiring immediate help.
If you don’t have a mobile phone, walk to the nearest emergency phone. Be really careful walking along a freeway and stay away from passing cars as much as you can.
5.Wait for help in a safe place
If you’ve broken down on a freeway, it’s important not to get back in the car to wait for help. This is because a passing car could hit your vehicle if they don’t see that you’ve stopped. Wait for help behind the guardrail or crash barrier, and keep your kids close so they won’t wander onto the road.
You might be in for a long wait, so bring any snacks from your car plus some toys or activity books to keep little ones entertained.
Tips and reminders of things to do before you leave:
Keep emergency items in your car
Stow a reflective vest or jacket in your car boot, so that if you need to change a tyre, other drivers will be able to see you.
Make sure your mobile phone is charged
Before you go on any long trips make sure your mobile is fully charged and consider keeping a portable or in-car charger in your vehicle.
Keep Blankets, Clothing and Snacks in the car
If you’re worried about breaking down in the cold keep a blanket, some snacks and warm clothes in your car. A pair of comfortable shoes will also come in handy if you need to walk to find help.
How to Prevent Breakdowns Before You Set Off
Keep your car well maintained to reduce the risk of breakdowns. Get regular services and make sure your oil, coolant and other fluids are topped up. Make sure your vehicle has a spare tyre that is inflated and has enough tread. You should also keep a puncture repair kit in your boot and check that you know how to use it.
Don’t ignore small problems
What seems like a small problem might indicate a larger issue – or the beginning of a problem that could grow out of hand. Get any chips in your windscreen fixed before they spread and become irreparable.