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Using an Emergency Telephone on the Motorway

By: Simon McBride - Updated: 30 Apr 2021 | comments*Discuss
Using An Emergency Telephone On The Motorway

If you breakdown on any motorway in the UK at least you will not be too far away from an emergency telephone. This means that you can get through to help whether you need breakdown recovery or rescue from the emergency services.

The Highways Agency, was established in 1994, as an executive agency of the Department for Transport. lf you breakdown you will be more likely to be helped by the Highways Agency rather than one of the three main emergency services.

What is an Emergency Telephone?

Emergency telephones are usually coloured orange and are located at regular intervals on the motorway network in the UK. These telephones connect you directly to the police force, who in turn will put you through to the Highways Agency Regional Control Centre.

The staff in the Highways Agency Regional Control Centre will ask you what has happened and whereabouts your vehicle is in relation to the phone that you are using. The control centre will then contact the closest patrol and send them to your assistance and they will also send the emergency services if they are needed.

Tips on How to Use an Emergency Telephone

  • Emergency telephones are provided at a regular intervals in the UK emergency telephones are situated at intervals of 1 mile.
  • You should walk to an emergency telephone on your side of the carriageway.
  • The easiest and quickest way to locate an emergency phone is to follow the arrows on the posts at the back of the hard shoulder.
  • Do not worry – you will not need any money to use an emergency telephone – the telephone is free of charge and connects directly to the Highways Agency or the police.
  • You should always use the emergency telephone rather than a mobile phone as you will go through to the correct people sooner meaning that you will be located and helped earlier than if you used your mobile to get assistance.
  • You should always face the traffic when you speak on the phone as you should always be aware of what is happening on the motorway even though you are standing on the hard shoulder making a phone call to get assistance.
  • always try to remember that you should give full details to the Highways Agency or the police of what has happened be it an accident or a breakdown.
  • If there are passengers in your vehicle and they need special assistance let the control centre know as they will try and prioritise your call.
  • If you are travelling alone, again let the control centre, know as they will try and prioritise your call
  • When you are finished the call, you should always return to the vicinity of where your vehicle is. You should wait away from the carriageway and put some distance between you and your vehicle. A live carriageway is a very dangerous place.
  • When waiting on assistance make sure that you have wrapped up warm as you don’t know how long help will take to get to you.

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Needed help today on the spur road off jct 4 of the m25. Spoke to Richard who was very, very good. He was very reassuring and professional and helped my resolve my issue very quickly. Many,many thanks
kenny - 30-Apr-21 @ 4:54 PM
I want to give a Big shout out to Andy who was on the other end of my phone call on the SOS phone in the middle of nowhere. Thank you for checking in on us while we waited for our recovery van. You were so helpful and calming and even tho it was scary being on the side of the road with a 2yr old I felt sorta safe knowing you were on the other end of the phone. The SOS phone was a life saver
Leanne - 16-Mar-21 @ 7:16 PM
A non-working emergency telephone on the M4, travelling west towards JUnction 13. The number of the phone point was 2809A. I would like to report this to the authorities so it can be attended to but not sure who.Ay ideas? In desperation I called the number on the inside cover of the phone - 0330 123 5000 on my own phone and got the recruitment department stating they would be open on Monday morning (this was Sunday lunchtime).
Hils - 13-Aug-20 @ 11:41 AM
Utterly hopeless - managed to limp my car into lay-by on A299 with one of these sos phones today, and held on for ten minutes, but nobody answered ! Managed to borrow a mobile and call RAC and gave the number on the outside of the box as my location, only to be told that they had no knowledge about roadside sos telephones !!!? I give up.
zilbos - 10-Aug-18 @ 12:31 AM
It is a pathetic service. Worst ever experience I have. I was so unlucky that my car broke down just near SOS phone on A438 but it was out of order. I walked a mile and talked on A1 sos phone. The gentleman who picked my phone has taken as much information from as he can. It was a long call; there is no benefit of telling him that I am traveling alone... Eventually no helped arrived. I am still waiting on A438. Finally I got call from my insurance who told me that I will be charged £111, because I have only comprehensive cover but no breakdown cover. I am waiting for last 1 hour for help....
Asif - 17-Jan-18 @ 8:34 AM
My grateful thanks to Tony on the end of the SOS phone yesterday. I broke downfor the first time ever unfortunately on the M5 . He was extremely helpful, calling StartRescue for me and then contacting me regularly onmy mobile to see that I was ok and to keep chasing the recovery service. His calmbess and kindness helped enormously during an anxious period when I was alone and freezing with lorries thundering alongside far tto close. Thank you very very much
Gill - 31-Oct-17 @ 8:08 PM
Exceptional service from Madeline on sos line. Both Madeline and the officers who helped my 19 year old daughter are exemplary examples of our public services that make me proud.
Moss - 26-May-17 @ 11:49 PM
I used the SOS phone for the first time this evening. The operator was a very nice guy, but from thereafter our experience awful down to unnecessary unhelpfulness and a rude, ignorant highway patrolman. After waiting with a lady and child behind the barrier in the dark and cold for an hour, up marches this man to inform a knowledge of what could have been given over the SOS an hour or more earlier - we had two hours to find a way off the motorway or be taken to a compound. When I enquired as to why we couldn't have been told this originally, he squared up to me with attitude. The answer was in his avoidance in giving one.
DrWhom - 13-Nov-16 @ 1:37 AM
Broke down yesterday at 9.30pm on the A1M leeds rang the SOS phone they were fantastic. Even though me and my wife had nearly 4 hours to wait to be recovered the highways agency were watching us all the time and ringing us. Well done what a great service
neal - 24-Jul-16 @ 8:40 PM
M4 today-puncture--spoke to Martin--absolutely fantastic-patience and kindness in abundance---it was the most amazing service--many thanks
none - 23-May-16 @ 6:03 PM
Had to use the SOS phone yesterday 2/10/15 and although the traffic noise on the m62 was horrendous, I was able to talk freely with a lovely chap called John who not only put me at ease in a very frightening situation, he also made every attempt to make sure the cameras were looking out for me and as alone driver I did feel safer. The offer of a breakdown vehicle to come to me was a great relief and it's free!!! Can't thank them enough,
Gav - 3-Oct-15 @ 9:44 AM
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