Breakdown season is here: make sure you’re prepared

Highways England is expecting to deal with an extra 700 breakdowns a week over the summer holidays as Brits head off on holiday.


New data shows 48,500 breakdowns happened between the last week of June and the first weekend of September in 2018, with the highest number happening the first weekend in August.

As a result of these findings, Highways England has launched a new safety campaign to help drivers remember the essentials of motorway driving and especially what to do to stay safe after a break down.

Richard Leonard, head of road safety at Highways England, said: “We want everyone to get to their destination safely and we can all play a part in that.

“Highways England has done a lot of work to ease congestion on our motorways and make them safer, and our traffic officers are there to help get things moving if there’s a problem. But you should also make sure you know what to do if your vehicle does break down.

“We’re expecting to see a big increase in breakdowns over the next few weeks as drivers set out on longer journeys during the summer. So, we’re urging drivers to remember the basics of motorway driving, including carrying out simple vehicle checks before setting off, to help keep us all moving.”

Tips to help avoid breakdowns

To help you avoid breaking down in the first place, follow these tips to make sure your car is in good working order:

  1. Check your tyres: make sure the pressures are correct for the load you’re carrying, the tread is deep enough and there’s no damage or uneven wear
  2. Check your engine oil level
  3. Top up your water levels
  4. Test your lights (brake lights, headlights, indicators, fog lights and reversing lights) to make sure they’re working
  5. Make sure you have enough fuel to get to your destination

For a thorough overview of all the tasks that help keep your car in top condition, take a look at our ultimate guide to car maintenance.

What to do if you break down

If you’re unlucky enough to break down on the motorway, follow Highways England’s five tips:

  1. Leave the motorway if possible: get to an emergency area or the hard shoulder and use the nearest free phone
  2. If you can’t do the above, move onto the verge
  3. Get out of the left side of your car and get behind the barrier if it’s safe
  4. Call your breakdown provider or Highways England on 0300 123 5000
  5. If you break down in moving traffic and can’t leave your car, keep your seatbelt and hazard lights on and call 999

Having breakdown cover in place can put your mind at rest if you’re about to set off on a long journey, so it might be worth looking into if you don’t already have this cover.