Centre for Road Safety

If you break down

Top tips

  • Always activate your hazard lights (and parking lights in poor visibility)
  • Find a safe spot to pull over, such as a hard shoulder or breakdown lane
  • Position your vehicle as far away from other traffic as possible
  • Stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on and call roadside assistance
  • If you have to get out of your vehicle, always check for traffic - leave your vehicle from the safest side, away from traffic, especially at night
  • Try to avoid crossing the road
  • Stand clear of the road and move behind a safety barrier if it is safe to do so
  • 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 the traffic.

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.

Additional advice

While the top tips will help keep you safe no matter where you break down, extra precautions should be taken on freeways, motorways and country roads, and in tunnels.

On freeways, motorways or country roads

  • Stay calm – help may take longer to arrive on these roads
  • Country roads can be narrow, for your safety move as far off the road as possible and activate your hazard lights.

In tunnels

  • Stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt buckled
  • 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

  • Always take extra care when driving near a breakdown
  • When passing a stopped tow truck, breakdown assistance or emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights, you must:
    • slow down to 40km/h if the speed limit is 80km/h or less
    • slow down safely and give space if the speed limit is 90km/h or more
  • Motorists must also provide sufficient space between their vehicle and the stationary tow truck, breakdown assistance or emergency vehicle displaying flashing lights. This will include changing lanes on a multi-lane road if it is safe to do so.
  • Before you help at a breakdown, find a safe spot to pull over and avoid traffic when you leave your vehicle.

Find more detials about the rules in Slow Down, Move Over and Give Space.

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.