Nearly eight-in-10 (78%) drivers would unknowingly put themselves in danger after breaking down on the motorway and stopping on the hard shoulder, new RAC research reveals.
Only a fifth (22%) of the 1,900 drivers surveyed would do the right thing after breaking down on one of the UK’s fastest roads on a cold and wet winter’s night by standing to the rear of their vehicle and as far as possible from traffic, ideally behind a barrier if there was one.
Frighteningly, one-in-10 (11%) said they would stay in their vehicle, leaving them at great risk of being seriously injured or killed if another vehicle were to hit them.
Two-thirds (65%) would also unwittingly put themselves at risk by standing either in front of or next to their car, where they could be hit in the event of another driver colliding with their broken-down vehicle.
Shockingly, the analysis corresponds with reports from nearly 200 RAC patrols, who found 78% of drivers they have attended who had broken down on motorways were still in their vehicles when they arrived.
James Pallister, who has been an RAC patrol since 2015 and works around the North East of England, said: “Increasingly, when we arrive at the scene of a motorway breakdown we find members still inside their vehicles, or stood next to or in front of them – two of the most dangerous places to be with vehicles approaching at fast speeds.
“Instead, our advice to drivers and their passengers is to use the doors furthest from the traffic to leave their vehicle, stand to the rear of their vehicle, facing and as far away from oncoming traffic as possible, behind a barrier if there is one.
“The only exception to this is if someone has mobility difficulties and can’t easily leave the vehicle – in which case they should keep their seatbelt on and call 999.”
RAC Breakdown spokesperson Alice Simpson said: “In cold wet weather, it’s very tempting for anyone who breaks down on a motorway to stay in their cars.
WSadly, we know from experience this is absolutely the wrong thing to do unless for some reason you aren’t able to get out of the vehicle.
This is why we are always reminding people to pack plenty of layers, good waterproof clothing and sturdy footwear so they can keep warm while they wait for help.