How to handle vehicle breakdowns on NSW roads

What to do when your car or another vehicle breaks down on NSW roads. Tips on pulling over, getting or giving help, and traffic safety.

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Reducing risk

To reduce the risk of a breakdown, plan ahead. Check your fuel, oil, water and tyre pressure (including the spare) regularly.

Carry a high-visibility vest and a torch inside your vehicle.

When you break down

When you break down:

  • find a safe spot to pull over such as the side of the road (shoulder), an emergency stopping lane, or a breakdown lane
  • park your vehicle as far to the left and away from other traffic as possible
  • turn on your hazard lights (and parking lights, if there’s poor visibility)
  • stay in your vehicle with your seatbelt on and call roadside assistance
  • if you have a flat tyre, drive to a safe spot away from the traffic, if possible.
Emergency stopping lane sign
Emergency stopping lane only' road sign

If you have to get out of your vehicle:

  • check for traffic before getting out
  • get out on the safest side of the road, away from the traffic
  • stand clear of the road and move behind a safety barrier, if it’s safe to do so
  • avoid crossing the road
  • do not change a tyre unless it’s safe to do so.

If you break down in a tunnel:

  • pull over to the breakdown bay or the side of the lane
  • turn on your hazard lights
  • stay in your vehicle
  • wait for help to arrive (major tunnels are constantly monitored).

When you see a breakdown

Take extra care when you see a vehicle that has broken down. Slow down and keep a safe distance.

When passing a stopped tow truck or breakdown assistance vehicle with flashing lights:

  • if the speed limit is 80km/h or less, you must slow down to 40km/h
  • if the speed limit is over 80km/h, you must slow down safely and move over. This includes changing lanes on a multi-lane road, if it’s safe to do so.

You must not increase your speed until you’ve passed all vehicles and people involved.

If you stop to help, find a safe spot to pull over and check for traffic before getting out.

Heavy vehicle warning triangle

Some heavy vehicles use warning triangles when they break down. If you see these on the road, slow down.

Heavy vehicle warning triangle
Warning triangle on the road. Slow down
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