What to do if your car breaks down

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  • Tuesday, 01 Sep 2020

Breakdown protocol – all passengers need to get out of the car as quickly as possible and then wait for help at a safe distance. Also, set up a warning sign for oncoming drivers. — dpa

When your car gives up the ghost on the motorway, you might be tempted to wait by its side until the repair crew shows up.

But you’re much safer waiting for help away from the car, ideally behind a crash barrier.

That’s because whenever your car breaks down, or someone else’s for that matter, road safety experts say you need to make sure you’re not in danger of being hit by your own vehicle if someone crashes into it.

But first: Don’t leave your smartphone in the car – you’ll need it to contact the breakdown service – and be sure to set up your emergency warning triangle.

If you’re on a country road, safety specialists from the Auto Club Europa (ACE) suggest you go at least 100m from the car in the opposite direction of travel, meaning you’re standing behind the car.

Make that 150m if you’re on a motorway. If there’s no guard rail, then the experts suggest putting an even greater distance between you and the car – a cool 200m, if you ask the Auto Club, and however far you go, stay a safe distance from the road.

When you’re getting out of the car, head out the side facing away from the road, says the ACE. At night or when visibility is poor, turn on your parking lights as well as your hazard warning lights to make sure other drivers can see your stationary vehicle. – dpa

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