The State of Breakdowns Where do Brits break down the most often?
Making sure your car is well looked after and regularly serviced should mean that you avoid running into any issues on the roads, but the truth is that a breakdown can occur at any time.
But when and where are breakdowns most likely to occur? We’ve submitted a Freedom of Information request to Highways England to find out just that.
No matter whether you use any of these roads frequently or not, make sure that you’re fully protected with breakdown cover to ensure that you can get professional assistance to get you back on the road as soon as possible.
The months you are most likely to break down
Over the last three years, there have been a total of 614,279 breakdowns on England’s ‘Strategic Road Network’ (which comprises all motorways and some A roads), which is a huge amount, especially when you take into account that there have been far fewer people on the roads during the various stages of lockdown in the last 18 months or so and works out as 561 breakdowns a day.
Looking at how this breaks down throughout the year, it’s the summer months that see the most breakdowns, with August having the most overall, with 63,420 over the last three years, accounting for just over 10% of all breakdowns, followed by July, with 60,382.
On the other hand, the earlier months of the year have the fewest breakdowns, with April having the least, with 42,661 (6.94%), although this could be slightly impacted by there being fewer cars on the roads in April 2020, when the UK’s first lockdown was just starting.
The days you are most likely to break down
Looking more specifically at days of the week, Friday was the most common day for breakdowns, with just over 100,000 over the last three years, accounting for 16.4% of breakdowns in England.
But on Saturdays and Sundays, breakdowns were actually lower, with 81,218 on Saturdays and 77,597 on Sundays, which is 23% fewer than on a Friday.
The roads where you are most likely to break down
We also wanted to know which were the roads that you’re most likely to break down on in England, with the M1 taking that dubious honour, with just over 90,000 reported breakdowns in the last three years.
The M1 is one of the busiest motorways in the country, connecting London and Leeds, so it’s little wonder that there are so many breakdowns recorded on it each year.
However, the M1 isn’t the longest motorway in the country, as that accolade goes to the motorway with the second-highest number of breakdowns, the M6, which runs from the Midlands to the Scottish border and saw over 82,000 incidents in the last three years.
And in third place was the M25 which runs around the edge of London and is known for its high levels of traffic, which explain why there are so many breakdowns too.
The regions with the most breakdowns
While it’s not the most heavily populated part of the country, the East of England was actually the region which had the highest number of breakdowns in the last three years, with over 136,000.
The East region covers some of the Home Counties, as well as all of East Anglia, including towns and cities such as Cambridge, Peterborough, Norwich and Ipswich.
In second place was the North West, with just over 100,000 breakdowns over the three-year period, while the region with the lowest number of incidents is the South West, which had less than half the amount of those in the East of the country, with just 50,000.
The most common reasons for breaking down
We also surveyed over 2,000 Brits to find out what the most common reasons for breakdowns are, and the results were fairly varied!
1. Overheating - 18%
Excluding those who responded with “Other”, the most common reason that people had to seek assistance was for their vehicles overheating (18%).
This can happen for a few reasons but the most common is that your cooling system isn’t working properly and you’ll soon know about it, as steam will likely start to rise from under the bonnet of the car or your engine temperature gauge will tell you.
If your car does overheat, it might seem counterproductive, but one of the best things you can do (other than pulling over) is to turn the air con off and crank up the heating. It might be uncomfortable but it draws heat away from the engine and helps cool it down a little.
2. Battery problems - 16%
Close behind as the second most common breakdown complaint were battery problems. There are a few things that can go wrong with your battery but all of them will leave you unable to get anywhere in a hurry, as your car relies on the power from your battery to get the engine started, amongst other things.
While a car battery can go at any time, if you look after them properly, they should usually last between three and five years.
3. Blown tyre - 14%
A tyre blowout is something all drivers dread and they actually occur more than you might think, with 14% of people saying they have experienced one.
If your tyre does blow out, try to stay calm and ensure that you’re in control of the car, before gently letting it slow down to a stop in a safe place.
All figures sourced from a Freedom of Information request submitted to Highways England on June 14th 2021.
Figures provided all relate to the past three full financial years, 2018/19, 2019/20 and 2020/21 and are only for breakdowns occurring on England’s Strategic Road Network.
Regions referred to are ROC (Regional Operations Centre) regions as used by Highways England.
We also conducted a survey of 2,177 drivers on July 14th 2021, carried out via Maru USURV.