What do you need to know to be safe in the event of your car breaking down on a motorway or highway? A study found that 3 out 5 people could be put in danger by their vehicle.

  • Only 41% of those surveyed said they would not stand outside their car for safety.
  • Fiveth would risk being struck by their car if another motorist drove into it. 

An overwhelming majority of motorists believe that their cars could be damaged on the motorway, according to a poll.

Nearly three-quarters of motorists, or 59%, would answer the question “Where would you stand” after they have stopped on the shoulder to exit their vehicle.

These include drivers who position themselves right in front of the engine if it is damaged.

Do you know where to stand to stay safe if your car breaks down on a motorway? A fifth of motorists would put themselves in one of the most dangerous positions possible, poll finds

Are you aware of where to go to be safe in the event that your car stops on a motorway? According to a poll, a fifth of motorists think they would be in the most hazardous position possible.

After a survey with more than 15,000 motorists in the UK, the AA has revealed some concerning information.

Shockingly, over a fifth (22 per cent) of licence holders said they would stand in one of the most dangerous places on a motorway – diagonally in front of the broken down vehicle. 

If another vehicle crashes into the car that is broken down, it will be the likely spot where the vehicles will crash and smash people. 

A hard shoulder is the best way to break down


Assume you were in a car accident on the motorway. Please refer to the below image and indicate your position while you wait for help. 


Zone 1: 41%, the safest position

Zone 2: 34%

Zone 3: 22%

Zone 4: 0,5%

Zone 5: 1 %

Zone 6: 0.5%

Don’t know: 1%

Source: AA poll of 15,097 respondents 

Around one percent of polled drivers said that they’d wait for a car to break down.

Fortunately, two fifths (41 per cent) would wait in the safest place which is behind the barrier and well past the boot of the casualty vehicle (Zone 1 pictured in infographic  above).  

They may have to adjust their figures slightly if they need to reach an emergency refuge zone on a smart highway. 2.5% said that they will stay with the car even though it is currently in a layby. 

This study was done ahead of the big Christmas vacation, when millions will travel to see family and friends they couldn’t during the Covid-hit 2020.

A refuge area is available for those who need it. 


Assume you had a breakdown on a highway and needed an Emergency Refuge Area (ERA). You were able stop at the ERA. If you look at the picture below, where would your location be while waiting for assistance to arrive? 


Zone 1: 39%, the safest position

Zone 2: 36%

Zone 3: 21%

Zone 4: 0,5% 

 Zone 5: 2%

Zone 6: 0.5%

Don’t know: 1%

Source: AA poll of 15,097 respondents 

Sean Sidley is the AA Patrol of the Year. He said that crashing down on the motorway can be scary and drivers could make it worse by not waiting. The force of a collision can prove fatal if the vehicle is struck.

If you are able to exit your car, go through the passenger doors. Walk past the boot of the vehicle and toward oncoming traffic. It limits the contact you have with other road users. 

You should remain in the same location once you’re there until directed otherwise. We recommend that those with reduced mobility keep their seatbelts and hazard warning lights in place.

Sean says, “As winter approaches with colder and wetter conditions it is tempting to stay in your car.” 

“Keeping water, snacks, and food in your car can make a big difference for yourself and your passengers. 


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