Two ways to prepare yourself for a car breakdown

Although it's not the most pleasant thing to think about, it's important to make sure that you are prepared for the possibility of your car breaking down. Regardless of how carefully you drive or how well maintained your car is, the reality is that there is always a chance that something could go wrong, and you could find yourself stuck on the roadside with a defective vehicle. Here are two things you can do to prepare yourself for this eventuality.

Learn how to cope with the dangers of a motorway breakdown

A breakdown that takes place on a deserted country road won't put you in any immediate danger. All you need to do is simply pull your vehicle over, get in touch with a local towing company and wait for them to arrive. Because there isn't usually a lot of traffic in rural areas, there is almost no risk of another road user colliding with your broken-down vehicle or of you yourself being hit by a passing car.

However, the same cannot be said for a motorway breakdown. If your car develops a fault whilst you're driving on a busy motorway and are surrounded by vehicles that are travelling at high speeds, there is a chance that you could end up being involved in a serious accident.

To prevent this from happening, it's important to know how to behave in this type of situation. If, whilst driving on a motorway, you notice that there's a problem with your car, try to get it onto the hard shoulder as soon as it is safe to do so; this will keep you out of the way of passing vehicles.

Then assess the visibility of your car; if it's starting to get dark out or if there's heavy fog, rain or snow, switch on your hazard lights and your side lights to ensure that other road users can see you and thus avoid colliding with your car. Additionally, although you might be tempted to stay inside the vehicle, it's generally best to get out and stand behind the safety barrier whilst you wait for the towing service to show up.

Keep a fully-stocked emergency kit in your car at all times

Having an emergency kit to hand can make a breakdown far less distressing and help to keep you and your passengers safe throughout this ordeal. A basic kit should consist of a reflective hazard triangle (to increase the visibility of your vehicle), a flashlight, a fuel can, a first aid kit, some bottled water and the contact information of your breakdown assistance provider or a towing company.

It's also a good idea to add in some seasonally-appropriate items throughout the year; so for instance, during the winter months, you may want to stock your emergency kit with an umbrella, a couple of blankets and some thick knitwear to keep you warm and dry while you're waiting for help to arrive.

During the spring and summer months, you may want to include a portable canopy, which can shield you from the sun and thus reduce the chance of heatstroke. Additionally, it may be wise to keep a larger supply of bottled water in your kit, as you're more likely to suffer from dehydration if your car breaks down on a very hot day.