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Roadside Safety: Don’t Break Down When Your Car Does

Your car can break down when you least expect it, often at the least convenient time possible. While panic doesn’t help the situation, it pays to know what to do when the situation occurs – and how to minimise the risk. With the silly season on the way and the risk of traffic accidents increasing, this guide will give you some breakdown do’s and don’t’s to help ensure you don’t break down when your car does.

How to prevent a breakdown

There are four main reasons a car breaks down. Here they are, along with what you can do to reduce the risk of each occurring:

Flat / Faulty Battery: Test your battery twice a year with your mechanic.

Flat / Damaged Tyres: Check the pressure and tread of your tyres regularly and don’t wait until they’re bald to buy new ones.

Alternator Problems: If your alternator is having problems, a red warning light should come on. In most cases it looks like a battery. Get it checked as soon as you can.

Fuel Problems: Make sure that you use the right fuel and have enough fuel. Don’t gamble with the low fuel warning light.

What to do when your car breaks down

The Department of Transport and Main Roads has a detailed roadside safety guide to what to do in the event of a breakdown and how you can best prevent one:

Do’s and Don’t’s for roadside breakdown safety


  • Pull into a stopping bay or as far to the left hand side of the road as possible.
  • Turn on your hazard and parking lights.
  • Get out of the car on the passenger side to avoid the traffic.
  • Make sure your passengers (if you have any) are safe.
  • Call Roadside Assistance. Know the number before you drive or keep it stored in your phone, wallet etc.


  • Stop in the middle of the road.
  • Get out of your car if there’s nowhere safe to wait for assistance.
  • Wave down other drivers for help on the motorway.
  • Try to fix the problem yourself.
  • Walk along the motorway to find help.
  • Get out of your car in a storm.
  • Get out of your car but leave your keys in it.
  • Neglect to purchase Roadside Assistance if you plan on driving during an overseas holiday.breakdown".

Different locations mean extra safety

It’s much safer to wait for assistance in a low-speed environment. If you realise your car is about to breakdown on a highway or motorway, make every attempt to exit and find a safer place to stop.

If that’s not an option, pull your vehicle onto the shoulder of the road (if there is one) or as far away from traffic as you can. Turn your hazard lights on so other motorists know you’ve broken down, and if it’s night-time turn parking lights on as well. Turn your wheels away from the traffic and pop the bonnet.

After you’ve made sure it’s safe to do so, exit the vehicle through the passenger side door. Call your roadside assistance provider from your mobile phone or, if you don’t have a mobile phone, stay with the vehicle and wait for help. Don’t try to walk along highways or motorways.

Contact Us

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle accident, Shine Lawyers can help you make a claim for compensation. Our motor vehicle accident lawyers are experts in their field and work on a No Win No Fee basis.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: November 27, 2018.

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