Breaking down is something that every motorist goes through at least once during their driving careers, and whether it’s changing a tire in the pouring rain or waiting for the breakdown man to arrive, it’s never a pleasant experience.
Breaking down while towing a trailer or caravan can be particularly hazardous, largely due to the cumbersome nature of what you’re towing. Location can also play a part, for while you can make use of the hard shoulder should you find yourself in difficulties, breaking down on country roads can present its own set of hazards.
If you’re transporting animals such as horses, breaking down can be a stressful experience for them as well, and spooked animals could cause problems for other road users should they panic and become loose, either as a result of an accident or in the event of a sudden breakdown.
What Should I Do If I Break Down?
In the event of an emergency whilst driving, the most important thing to remember is to remain calm, and ensure that you get yourself to a safe place by doing the following:
- Pull as far to the left as you can and turn your steering wheel to the left, ensuring that you put it in full-lock
- Turn on your hazard warning lights immediately and leave your sidelights on as an indication to other road users
- Ensure that you and your passengers exit using the left-hand side doors of your vehicle and remain in a safe place – usually behind a barrier and on a grassy verge by a motorway – until help arrives
- Put on reflective jackets if you have them, and if you break down on an A-road ensure that you deploy a warning triangle at least 50 yards behind your vehicle in order to warn other drivers of your situation
- Phone your breakdown service if you use one, either using your mobile phone or a nearby payphone if you break down on an A-road
What If I Don’t Have Breakdown Cover?
If you break down on a motorway then you should locate your nearest emergency telephone if you can’t make use of a smartphone. Many breakdown providers now make use of apps in order to pinpoint your location and deploy help your way, but in areas of bad signal, this may not be possible, so an alternative might be needed.
Look for the blue signs along the edge of the motorway and for the orange booths which contain a phone with a direct connection to the Highways England (formerly Highways Agency) or the police, these are free to use and can be vital to those who break down.
What About My Animals?
If you’re travelling with animals, either in the car or in a trailer, it’s important to keep them calm and under control. Dogs should be put on a leash and kept under control whilst waiting for the breakdown services, but with larger animals such as horses and cattle, it can be a bit more difficult.
Ensuring that your animals remain calm is important while you wait for help is vital to not only ensure their wellbeing but that of other road users. Many modern horse trailers will have side entrances to allow access for trainers to enter and ensure the animal remains calm, but make sure that you only enter the trailer when it is safe to do so, as a frightened horse can be unpredictable and may even cause you injury if not approached with care.
You should ensure that they also have access to food and water throughout the journey and that your trailer also contains tack for when you need to bridle up and move the animal, either to get them to a place of safety or when you arrive at the stables.
Having some breakdown cover can help to get your vehicle roadworthy as soon as possible. A mechanic may be able to fix the problem on the spot, or if not make sure you are towed to a nearby garage to await repairs, but it can also be worth having some on what you’re towing as well.
Should I Insure My Trailer Too?
You must ensure that you have some level of horsebox insurance in place before you take one on the road, these policies can ensure that not only will your trailer be moved to a place of safety, but that your animals will be taken care of as well.
Many horsebox insurance policies will offer the following features as standard:
- Roadside Assistance and Roadside Repairs
- Recovery and transportation of your animals to nearby stables or a home address while you await repairs
- Puncture Assistance
Owning and transporting horses can be an expensive business, but by making sure that your transport is covered with some horsebox insurance you can ensure that you can get back on the road to your event or grazing field as quickly as possible following a breakdown.
If you still need more information, you can download a free Horsebox and Trailer Owner Guide from gov.uk.