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Guidance for Drivers


If your vehicle catches fire:

  • stop immediately and switch off the engine; 
  • leave the gear stick in neutral in case of accidental engine re-ignition; 
  • engage fuel cut-off switch, if fitted; 
  • get any passengers out and away from the vehicle, closing the vehicle doors behind them; 
  • call the emergency services; 
  • if you have time, remove the ignition key, engage battery isolation switch if fitted, close all windows and, if you think there may be an engine fire, release the bonnet catch. Do not open the bonnet; 
  • tackle the fire ONLY IF IT IS SAFE TO DO SO; 
  • when the emergency services arrive, inform them if there is a hazardous load on board. 

If you are carrying wheelchair users:

  • use the passenger lift. Even in a fire emergency it is the safest way for wheelchair users to evacuate a vehicle; 
  • if the lift cannot be used in the usual way but the vehicle has a relatively low floor, the lift may be positioned half way between ground and floor, and used as a step. In this case bring the passenger in the wheelchair out backwards; 
  • if the lift cannot be used at all and another person is available to help, the passenger should be lifted, while seated in the wheelchair, backwards through the vehicle door; 
  • if no other help is available, or the wheelchair cannot be released from its restraints, the passenger must be carried from the vehicle. Check with the passenger how best to carry them. If they are unconscious, drape their arms around your shoulders and, with their face to your back, carry them to safety. 

If your vehicle breaks down on the motorway:

  • if safe and practicable, leave the motorway at the next exit and seek assistance; 
  • otherwise pull safely off the carriageway onto the hard shoulder; 
  • try to stop near an emergency phone; 
  • park as close to the nearside of the hard shoulder as possible; 
  • switch on the vehicle's hazard warning lights and, at night, switch on all other lights including saloon lights; 
  • if possible get all the passengers out of the vehicle using nearside exits. 
  • keep passengers well away from the carriageway, preferably on the embankment; 
  • do not cross the carriageway; 
  • if your vehicle carries an emergency triangle, position it on the hard shoulder 150 metres behind the vehicle; 
  • phone the police (the emergency phones connect you with the Motorway Police Control Room).  

Police advice is that drivers should leave their vehicle and turn to face oncoming traffic. If they consider themselves to be at risk from any other vehicle stopping, they should return to their vehicle and lock all doors.