8 winter breakdown and recovery tips for drivers

Date Posted 28th November 2022
Read Time 4 min read
Keeping warning signs in the car is useful for winter breakdowns.

Driving in winter means more hazards as drivers navigate icy conditions and bad weather on their daily journeys. For those who may encounter a breakdown or emergency on the road this winter, Start Rescue, the nationwide roadside rescue, and recovery provider is sharing some insights into how you can stay best equipped for any unfortunate winter breakdowns.

Start Rescue says that although breakdown apps remain the easiest way to report your location and track your recovery waiting time, motorists should still be aware of other ways to communicate their position and increase their visibility in a winter breakdown scenario.

The company explains that driver location signs, positioned along the hard shoulder of motorways and A-roads, are often overlooked, and can be used by anyone to describe an exact location to the emergency services.

Two types of driver location signs exist – the most common featured on motorways across the UK, are distance marker posts, which are short, white signs with red reflectors and a blue strip that includes two lines of numbers, installed every 100-metres.

The top line of numbers explains the distance along the motorway in kilometres (km) from a given location which the emergency services will be aware of, while the lower line shows the tenths of kilometre. The marker posts’ shorter side also provides a directional arrow with an image to inform of the nearest emergency roadside telephone.

In England, more visible rectangular blue signs appear on poles along the hard shoulder of motorways and some A-roads, positioned every 500-metres (550-yards). These signs display three pieces of information. The first line shows the road identifier, which states the motorway or A-road, for example, M25 or A1.

The second line contains the carriageway direction identifier letter, which is normally “A”, “B”, “J”, “K”, “L” and “M”.  The letter “A” often stands for “Away from London” and is used for carriageways travelling away from London or clockwise on orbital motorways, whereas “B” often stands for “Back to London” or anticlockwise on orbital motorways.

Meanwhile, location numbers on the third line, increase in the direction of travel along the “A” carriageway, or decrease in the direction of travel along the “B” carriageway. The letters “J”, “K”, “L” and “M” just indicate junction slip roads.

It’s beneficial to know that the numbers on driver location signs are not a grid reference, they ascend or descend from a notional start point of the motorway. Driver location signs are designed to help motorists identify their exact location to breakdown providers or the emergency services but can be overlooked by stranded motorists.

Check out Start Rescue’s eight simple, safe, and effective tips to help motorists highlight their location and become easily identifiable to recovery services in a winter breakdown situation.

Wiping down dirty number plates: Make sure that your vehicle registration can always be easily read and keep your number plate free of winter grime.

Regularly cleaning all lights: This is incredibly important because not only is it a legal requirement to have clean, functioning lights, but it also allows you to see, and be seen by, other vehicles on the road.

Keeping vehicle bodywork clean: It can feel like a chore to get your car washed regularly in winter when the weather conditions can quickly ruin it again but having body work that’s clean keeps the car reflective and easier to spot than a car that’s dirty.

Place a spare Hi-Vis vest in the back window: As well as wearing one, placing a hi-vis vest in the back window will increase visibility at the side of the road and help recovery services find you more easily.

Stating local landmarks: If you’re able to point out any specific buildings, roads or points of interest around you, this will help local-to-the-area recovery professionals find you faster.

Stating any identifiable vehicle features: Do you have a roof box or a bike rack – or any other unique car features? If yes, make sure to include these when contacting recovery services.

Using the Start Rescue app or What3Words: Provided you are in an area with good network and able to use the app, find and report your exact location.

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