Centre for Road Safety

If you break down

Top 10 tips

  1. Always activate your hazard lights
  2. Find a safe spot to pull over, such as a hard shoulder or breakdown lane
  3. Park your vehicle as far away from other traffic as possible
  4. Activate your parking lights in poor visibility
  5. Stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on and call roadside assistance
  6. If you have to get out of your vehicle, always check for traffic
  7. Leave your vehicle from the safest side, away from the traffic
  8. Do not attempt to change a tyre unless it is safe to do so
  9. Try to avoid crossing the road
  10. Stand clear of the road and move behind a safety barrier if it is safe to do so.

Be prepared before you leave

  • Before a long journey, check your fuel, oil, water and tyre pressures (including the spare). Our tyre safety tips have practical advice.
  • Carry a high-visibility vest and a torch inside your vehicle
  • Breakdown lanes are only for breakdowns. Use a rest area for making phone calls, toilet stops or attending to children.
  • Fatigue is one of the three big killers on NSW roads. Find helpful advice in our tips to avoid driving tired.

Other situations

While the top 10 tips will help keep you safe if you break down, extra precautions should be taken on freeways and country roads, and in tunnels.

On freeways or country roads

  • Do not attempt to change a tyre unless it is safe to do so. If possible, drive on a flat tyre to a safe spot away from traffic
  • Stay calm – help may take longer to arrive on freeways or country roads
  • Take special care to avoid traffic if you have to get out of your vehicle, especially at night.
  • Country roads can be narrow and do not have footpaths.

In tunnels

  • Always activate your hazard and parking lights
  • Stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on
  • Stay calm – major tunnels are constantly monitored and operators will send help
  • Listen to your radio for instructions from the tunnel operator.

If you see a breakdown

  • Slow down to about 30km/h below the posted speed limit
  • Before you help at a breakdown, find a safe spot to pull over and take special care to avoid traffic when you leave your vehicle.

Don’t take risks

Our Breakdown Safety glove box guide is a handy checklist to keep in your vehicle. Copies of the Breakdown Safety glove box guide can be ordered on our Products page. 

Our Breakdown Safety Strategy - A way forward aims to develop practical ways to reduce the risks at breakdowns for all road users across NSW.