If you break down – go left! That’s the message from Highways England in its biggest ever campaign to help drivers feel safer on the country’s motorways.

Breakdowns and emergencies on high-speed roads, like motorways and A-roads, aren’t that common, and England’s motorways are some of the safest roads in the world. But knowing what to do if you break down will help keep you and others safe, and make you feel more in control of your journey.

Most breakdowns are avoidable and these simple vehicle checks can help you have a safer journey.

If your vehicle does have a problem on a motorway, stay calm and try to exit at the next junction or motorway service area. If that’s not possible:

Go left:

  • Put your left indicators on
  • Move into the left lane
  • Enter the next emergency area, or pull on to the hard shoulder
Highways England Go Left!
Go left – if you have vehicle problems and can’t get off the motorway you can use an emergency area

On a motorway without a hard shoulder, it should be possible for most vehicles experiencing a problem to reach an emergency area. These are spaced regularly, are painted orange and are marked with blue and orange signs featuring an SOS telephone symbol.

Get safe:

  • Switch your hazard lights on
  • It may be safer to stay in your vehicle and wait for help than to get out. If you decide it’s safer to leave, and you can get out with any passengers, exit your vehicle and keep well away from moving traffic
  • Get behind the safety barrier if you can

Get help:

  • Contact Highways England on 0300 123 5000, then a breakdown recovery provider. You can also text 0738 028 3600 if you need roadside assistance
  • If you are unable to exit your vehicle and get to a safe place, have stopped in moving traffic, or feel your life is in danger, stay in your vehicle with your seatbelts and hazard lights on and contact 999 immediately

Highways England has people on hand 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help. Keep the Highways England number – 0300 123 5000 – in your phone in case of emergencies. British Sign Language users can also use the SignLive App to contact Highways England.

Visit the Highways England website for more advice about what to do in a breakdown.

Watch Highways England’s breakdowns advice in British Sign Language.