Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 16th May 2014

Most of us will experience a breakdown at least once in our lifetime, and those who have had to endure one already will understand what a nightmare it can be. Unfortunately it’s just one of those unavoidable life events, but being prepared on what to do in the event of one will hopefully make it a little less stressful.

Before you even hit the road, make sure you’ve considered these things:

  • Firstly, do you have appropriate cover? This may be provided through your insurer. Our motorbike policies, for example, include accident and breakdown recovery. If you’re travelling abroad it may change the circumstances of your cover, so it’s worth double-checking the details. Always carry contact information of your breakdown provider when you travel, regardless of how long the journey is.

  • Make sure your phone’s battery will last the duration of the journey, or invest in an adaptable phone charger for the ride. It’s always a good idea to carry some loose change just in case your mobile has no signal and you need to use a payphone.

  • It’s a good idea to carry a map with you, as you may need to explain where you are.

  • Pack some waterproofs and some reflective gear in case you breakdown in the rain or at night.

The way you deal with a breakdown will depend on where it is you’ve broken down. Breaking down on a motorway, for example, is very different from breaking down on a small village lane. In any case, here’s what you should do:

On motorways

With huge lorries, cars and motorbikes whizzing past at 70mph, breaking down on the motorway is pretty dangerous and can be a daunting experience. Pull over onto the hard shoulder as soon as you realise that something’s not right (use the hard shoulder to slow down).

  • Stop as far left as you can, turn your front wheel away from the traffic and switch your hazard lights on if your bike has that option. If it’s dark or there’s poor visibility, keep your sidelights on too.

  • Step off the left-side of your bike, and if you’re travelling with a pillion make sure they do the same. If you have a motorbike warning triangle, never attempt to put one out on the motorway.

  • Keep yourself and any other passengers far away from the motorway and the hard shoulder.

  • Once you’re in a safe place, walk to an emergency phone (there’s approximately one per mile on the motorway). The telephone will connect you free of charge to the police or the Highways Agency. You can also use your mobile phone to make the call, but whatever you do, make sure you’re always facing the oncoming traffic.

  • Give the full details of your location to the appropriate person.

  • After the call, return and wait near your motorbike (still far away from the hard shoulder).

When you find yourself having to re-join the motorway, make sure you build up speed on the hard shoulder. Bear in mind that other vehicles may be stationary on the hard shoulder and there is a higher risk of debris than on the main carriageway.

On other roads

Breaking down on smaller roads may be less stressful, but it can still be dangerous.

  • Step off of the motorbike as soon as you can and if you’re causing an obstruction, switch your hazards on (if you have them). If it’s dark or if visibility is poor, keep your sidelights on.

  • If it’s particularly bad weather or if it’s dark, put on a reflective jacket.

  • If you do carry a warning triangle (which isn’t necessary for motorcycles in the UK but is recommended), place it at least 45 metres behind your bike.

  • Use your mobile or the nearest telephone to call for assistance.

  • Return to your motorbike and wait for help.