Motor-phobic Britain

Article date: 30 November 2006

  • RAC report reveals technology and lack of motor education toblame

Millions of British motorists are suffering from a growingphenomenon of “motor-phobia” according to a new reportreleased today.

The RAC Breakdown Britain report canvassed the opinions of RACpatrols across the UK and uses its unique call-out data to helppaint a more accurate picture of the real issues facing motoristson our roads.

According to the findings, increasingly complex technology isbaffling the modern day motorist and creating a reluctance toconduct even the most basic car maintenance tasks such as checkingthe oil and water levels.

More than half (56%) of patrols say most motorists now fear lookingunder the bonnet of their vehicle and as a result almost all (97%)say that car owners now tend to automatically rely on others to fixproblems for them rather than reading up on them or tackling theproblem themselves.

The research also reveals despite people spending more time thanever before on the road, an improvement in motorists’awareness of their own vehicle and its workings could help preventsome of the 65,000 RAC call-outs where no fault is found.

Key findings from the RAC Breakdown Britain report are:

  • A quarter of all call outs could be prevented if ownershad read their car handbooks
  • Misinterpretation of warning lights as a more serious problemaccount for a third of all call outs
  • Punctured tyres and flat batteries are the top reasons forcall-outs, accounting for almost 400,000 RAC calls each year
  • More than half of patrols cite the increasing usage of gadgetssuch as Satellite Navigation, in-car DVD systems and MP3 playersas the cause of the rise in the number of call-outs for batteryrelated breakdowns in the past three years
  • Almost nine out of 10 (88%) patrols express concern about thenumber of vehicles on the road without a spare tyre, particularlywhen RAC call-out data reveals a punctured tyre is the most commonreason for breakdown, accounting for 200,000 call-outsannually
  • Only one in five motorists regularly conducts the recommendedtyre, oil and water checks.

Commenting on the findings of the report, Sam Hudson, RACoperations manager, said: “Throughout the last decade a hugenumber of innovations have been introduced to make the experienceof driving safer and more enjoyable. However, these sametechnologies have distanced owners from their vehicle, as manymotorists fear damaging sensitive, and often expensive, devices.This has created a mindset in which drivers would rather donothing, than risk causing harm to their vehicle. But drivers couldsave themselves valuable time, money and the distress of abreakdown by investing just a little time in better understandingtheir vehicle”

The report also reveals the nation’s top breakdown cities.Croydon tops the list, with more than 7,500 call-outs on averageeach year, followed by Leicester (4,979). Completing the top tenbreakdown spots across the country are:

Britain’s breakdown hotspots


Call-outs per annum


Croydon (CR0)



Leicester (LE3)



Bristol (BS16)



Maidenhead (SL6)



Crawley (RH10)



Winchester (SO21)



Harlesden (NW10)



Brighton (BN1)



Horley (RH6)



Cardiff (CF14)


Sam Hudson, comments: “The Breakdown Britain research is afirst of its kind for RAC and enables us to build a betterunderstanding of what life is like on the road for both our patrolsand motorists. Our patrols attend call-outs 24 hours a day, 365days a year and are therefore ideally placed to provide us with anaccurate insight into today’s motoring issues, enabling us tooffer motorists practical solutions to their problems.”

RAC attends to over 2.5 million roadside assistance call-outs eachyear. And whilst tyres and batteries top the list of rescuereasons, the research also revealed the other ways in which RACpatrols help people across the UK:

  • One current RAC patrol delivered a baby
  • Four in 10 patrols have rescued a celebrity 
  • One in 10 patrols has attended a wedding related call-out,including retrieving a ring and delivering a bride to thealtar.

Motorists can find out more information on how to deal withbasic breakdown problems at the Owning a Car section


RAC Press office contact:

Adam Cracknell on 01603 684916/07800 699517 or Sonia Clarke on 0207908 6570/Jasmine Agbulos on 0207 908 6402

Notes to editors:
An indepth survey wascompleted by 400 RAC patrols between 20 and 31 October 2006.
The results were compiled by The Survey Shop between 6 and 14November 2006.
Internal data and statistics have been supplied by RAC MI.

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is oneof the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providingservices for both private and business motorists. Whether it'sroadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning todrive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial servicesor up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able tomeet motorists’ needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC AutoWindscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC'spowerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leadingposition in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part ofAviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one inseven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15%.

RAC’s news releases and a selection of images are availablefrom the internet press centre at

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