Breakdowns and incidents (275 to 287)

Rules for breakdowns and incidents, including rules for motorways, obstructions, incidents, incidents involving dangerous goods and documents.

Place of relative safety (rule 275)

Rule 275

If you need to stop your vehicle in the event of a breakdown or incident, try to stop in a place of relative safety. A place of relative safety is where you, your passengers and your vehicle are less likely to be at risk from moving traffic.

The safest place to stop is a location which is designed for parking. On motorways and other high-speed roads, the safest place to stop is a service area. Other places of relative safety include

Be aware that hard shoulders provide less protection than other places of relative safety because they are so close to high-speed traffic.

You and your passengers should, where possible, keep well away from your vehicle and moving traffic. Otherwise moving traffic could collide with your vehicle, forcing it into you and your passengers.

Breakdowns (rule 276)

Rule 276

If your vehicle breaks down, think first of all other road users and

Additional rules for motorways (rules 277 to 278)

Rule 277

If your vehicle develops a problem, leave the carriageway at the next exit or pull into a service area if possible (see Rule 275 for places of relative safety). If you cannot, you should

Go left

Get safe

If you can’t

  • get your vehicle to the left lane or a place of relative safety (see Rule 275), and
  • exit your vehicle safely to get well away from it and moving traffic,

you should

  • stay in your vehicle
  • keep your seat belts and hazard warning lights on
  • call 999 immediately and ask for the police. Alternatively, press your SOS button if your vehicle has one and ask for the police.

Rule 277: Keep well away from your vehicle and moving traffic

Rule 277: Keep well away from your vehicle and moving traffic

Get help

Communicating your location. How to identify your location to the emergency services.

Method What to do
eCall Press the SOS button if your vehicle has one.
App Use a mobile telephone mapping application.
Marker post or driver location sign Quote the numbers and letters on marker posts or driver location signs which are located along the edge of the road.

Laws MT(E&W)R reg 14 & MT(S)R reg 12

Rule 278

To rejoin the carriageway after a breakdown from

Rule 278: Emergency area information sign

Law RTA 1988 sect 36

Rule 279

Disabled drivers. If you have a disability that prevents you from following the above advice in Rules 277 and 278, you should

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, it is recommended that you register for the 999 text service ( before making a journey.

Obstructions (rule 280)

Rule 280

If anything falls from a vehicle on to a motorway or other high-speed road, DO NOT remove the obstruction yourself. Stop in a place of relative safety (see Rule 275) and call the emergency services on 999.

On other roads, you should only remove obstructions if it is safe to do so.

Incidents (rules 281 to 283)

Rule 281

Warning signs or flashing lights. If you see emergency or incident support vehicles displaying flashing lights in the distance, be aware there may be an incident ahead (see Rule 219). You should slow down and be prepared to move safely into another lane or stop.

The emergency services, traffic officers and recovery workers may be required to work in the carriageway; for example, dealing with debris, collisions or conducting rolling roadblocks. You MUST follow any directions given by police or traffic officers as to whether you can safely pass the incident or obstruction.

Laws RTA 1988 sects 35 & 163 as amended by TMA sect 6

Rule 282

When passing the scene of an incident, remain alert for hazards (such as debris or slow-moving vehicles) and do not slow down unnecessarily (for example, if an incident is on the other side of a dual carriageway). You should focus on the road ahead when passing an incident because a lack of attention may cause a further incident, collision or congestion (see also Rule 283, below).

Rule 283

If you are involved in an incident or collision or stop to give assistance

If you are involved in any other medical emergency, you should contact the emergency services in the same way.

Incidents involving dangerous goods (rules 284 to 285)

Rule 284

Vehicles carrying dangerous goods in packages will be marked with plain orange reflective plates. Road tankers and vehicles carrying tank containers of dangerous goods will have hazard warning plates (see ‘Vehicle markings’).

Rule 285

If an incident involves a vehicle containing dangerous goods, follow the advice in Rule 283 and, in particular

Documentation (rules 286 to 287)

Rule 286

If you are involved in a collision which causes damage or injury to any other person, vehicle, animal or property, you MUST

Law RTA 1988 sect 170

Rule 287

If another person is injured and you do not produce your insurance certificate at the time of the crash to a police officer or to anyone having reasonable grounds to request it, you MUST

Law RTA 1988 sect 170