It’s not until you experience your first catastrophic breakdown that you realise just how daunting the whole thing can be. All of a sudden, you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, with no idea how you will get to your destination or get your car shifted. 

Not only do your immediate plans go completely out of the window, but you also have the acute realisation are you are now in harm’s way. Your car is going nowhere, and you may not have the means at your disposal to call for immediate help. 

The question is – can you legally leave your car where it is, and for how long? Is it a legal requirement to stick with your broken down car as long as necessary, or are there exceptions when leaving it is permitted?

Broken Down Vehicles on Motorways

Where a vehicle breaks down on the motorway, the advice from experts and Highways England is fairly straightforward. Under no circumstances should you stay in your car, as to do so is to put your life on the line.

Instead, you should position yourself a safe distance away from the road, ideally behind a safety barrier.  At which point, you should call National Highways on 0300 123 5000 for advice on what to do next. Never return to a broken down vehicle by a busy motorway, and do not jeopardise your health and safety by setting up a warning triangle. 

If there is any chance your vehicle could pose an immediate safety risk to any other drivers using the motorway, call 999 for urgent assistance.

Broken Down Vehicles on Quieter Roads

Things are a little blurrier on quieter roads, where the risk of a collision may be significantly lower.  Even so, there is no realistic way of ruling out a potential accident, irrespective of how slow and quiet the road may be.

The same basic advice therefore applies – keep yourself a safe distance from your car, until help arrives. If possible, set up a warning triangle at least 45 metres in advance of where your vehicle is now situated. Leave your hazard lights on, and call your breakdown provider for advice. 

For How Long Can I Leave My Car Abandoned?

As for abandoning your car entirely following a breakdown, it of depends entirely on where it comes to rest. On motorways (and any other roads where it is illegal to park up), abandoning a broken down car is expressly forbidden.  By contrast, a car that breaks down on a standard residential road in a place where it is legal to park can be abandoned indefinitely.  That is, just as long as it does not pose a health and safety risk to anyone else in the vicinity.

In any case, your breakdown service provider will give you all the advice and support you need to make a safe and informed decision. Heading out and about without breakdown support is a fundamentally bad idea, and could cost you more than you bargained for.

For more information on the services we provide or to discuss collection of a scrap car in your area, contact a member of the team at Take My Scrap Car today for a chat.