Family holiday with the car: But what if the car breaks down?

01. Jul 2020 | Industry + More

There are few things more unpleasant than breaking down on the motorway. And when it happens while you're going on holiday, it's even worse. Especially when small children - or even bigger children - are on board. In this blog article, you will find out how to avoid breakdowns and what you should do if it does happen.

Prevention is still the best recipe for avoiding a breakdown. So the best approach is for holidaymakers to have their vehicle checked in their trusted workshop before the big trip. The tyres and tyre air pressure, brake system, wheel suspension, fluid levels and lighting in particular should be checked. Particular attention should be paid to the air conditioning system, as it needs to run perfectly, especially in hot temperatures.

Rule number one in case of a breakdown: Keep calm

Because the car is usually heavily loaded, travelling very long distances in some cases and often in high temperatures, something can always happen. In cases like these, it’s important to keep a cool head.

If something is wrong with the car, the driver should activate the hazard warning lights immediately and bring the vehicle to a standstill on the hard shoulder or in a parking bay. Everyone in the car should move behind the crash barrier through the passenger side doors as soon as possible. Babies or small children in a child's seat should always be taken out of the seat via the side of the vehicle facing away from the road. Even if this is difficult, safety is essential here! Always pay attention to flowing traffic. Children should never be left alone or unsupervised!

Safeguarding the accident location is also extremely important, emphasises Deutsche Transportwacht Niedersachsen (German Association for Prevention of Road Accidents): “The safety vest must be worn and the emergency triangle set up. On country roads, the emergency triangle should be set up at least 100 metres before the broken down vehicle, and around 150 metres from the vehicle on motorways.” The ADAC recommends that all passengers should ideally wear a safety vest.

Make the breakdown emergency call: How it works

A breakdown call should then be made by phone or emergency telephone point. The ADAC, for example, can be reached via the mobile speed dial 22 22 22. According to ADAC, the following information in important:

  • First name and surname
  • ADAC membership number (if available)
  • Vehicle brand, type, colour
  • Registration number of your vehicle
  • Breakdown or accident location (incl. direction of travel)
  • Breakdown or accident cause
  • Mobile phone number for any queries

If possible, children should be collected by relatives or friends. The children's safety should also be kept in mind when safeguarding the accident location. Children should wait behind the crash barrier and must be supervised by a parent, while the other parent safeguards the accident location.

Many people don’t know that, if it isn’t possible to adequately safeguard the accident location, for example due to a challenging accident location (such as a poorly visible accident location, acceleration lanes, etc.), or if you are unable to secure the accident location yourself, you can call the police for help. Another example would be if you were alone and a child would be put in danger because you would otherwise have to leave the child unsupervised or put him or her in danger because you would have to take the child with you to secure the site.

Preparation is key

In order to be well prepared for a breakdown, families with children should have these important things on hand:

  • A fully charged mobile phone
  • Safety vests and emergency triangles (preferably stowed in the glove compartment, under the seat or in the sides of the doors)
  • The vehicle registration document
  • Especially for children: a jacket/blanket, sun protection/rain protection
  • Bag with the essentials (drinks, snacks, bottles, nappies)

(Source ADAC blog)

We hope you enjoy your holiday and - of course - that you don’t have a breakdown!