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BREAKDOWN: Emergency service operators urge taxi drivers and other motorists to download what3words

Image credit: what3words

As Brits prepare to spend time with friends and family over the festive period, roads will see a significant increase in congestion with the AA predicting over 15 million car trips a day over Easter weekend.

That’s why the AA and emergency service operators are urging taxi drivers and passengers to download free what3words location app as a road safety tool before travelling. With the app, drivers who break down can share their precise location with taxis so they can quickly and efficiently find them on the roadside. The technology also means passengers can let emergency service operators and roadside assistance know precisely where they are, in the event of the taxi breaking down.

what3words has divided the globe into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and given each square a unique combination of three words: a what3words address. For example, drivers can enter ///join.strict.bound to find the entrance of the Shell Garage of Beaconsfield Services on the M40. The technology enables drivers to precisely communicate their location so breakdown services and emergency service operators can find them quickly and efficiently. The location technology is used by over 85% of UK emergency services, and breakdown providers like the AA use the app to locate customers in need.

How to use what3words in an emergency:

1 Be prepared and download the what3words app ahead of this summer. The app is free to download on both iOS and Android, and does not need an internet connection to find your current what3words address - it uses GPS.

2 Open the app and click the blue arrow (iOS) or compass (Android) to find the what3words address for your current location. Make sure you wait a few seconds until the GPS has settled and the blue dot is not jumping around - this will give the most accurate result.

3 Clearly share your what3words address with the call handler, along with any other location descriptions you may have - such as nearby roads, towns or any other landmarks you can see.


1 If you don’t have the what3words app already installed, the emergency services call handler might send you an SMS text including a link that will open what3words in your internet browser.

2 The page will display your current what3words address, and your device’s GPS accuracy in metres. Click the ‘refresh’ button to refine the accuracy of your GPS.

3 Clearly share your what3word address with the call handler, along with any other location descriptions you may have - such as nearby roads, towns or any other landmarks and landmarks.

The emergency service can then coordinate a response directly to the exact location where help is needed.


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