'Good Samaritans' set to disappear from UK roads

Article date: 2 November 2007

Stopping to help a fellow driver in trouble may soon be a thing of the past, with 81% of younger drivers admitting they're not up to speed with basic car maintenance skills.

In fact the study, commissioned by RAC Rescue, reveals that nearly half of all younger drivers are simply too embarrassed to stop and help.

Nearly two thirds of young drivers aged 25-34 admit they would not help someone whose car had broken down, compared to 65% of drivers their parents' age who would gladly help out. Worryingly, nearly one in ten of all UK drivers are afraid they would cause more damage to a car if they attempted to help!

On average, over half of young drivers do not know how to carry out some of the most common breakdown problems - changing a tyre, push starting a car and jump starting a car.

Yet it seems that although so many drivers are become increasingly reluctant to stop and help out, nearly two thirds of them would be extremely grateful if someone were to stop if they were caught in the same situation.

There are more "Good Samaritans" remaining in some parts of the UK than in others.

Scottish motorists are the most likely to come to someone's aid (62% would stop), whereas if you break down in the South East you are less likely to be approached, as over half would drive by.


% that wouldn't stop to help

South East


North West


North East










South West






It seems the way you look also plays a key part in how likely it is for someone to stop and help. Grandmas are in luck as over half of those polled said they would be most likely to help this group, but if you're a blonde bombshell only one in ten drivers will stop for you!

If you're a 30 year old man or a 40 year old businessman you may be in for a long wait if you rely on your fellow motorists for assistance, as only 1% of drivers said they would be likely to help to these groups.

Prakesh Patel from RAC Rescue comments: "With less than half of all motorists failing to read their car maintenance book, it is no surprise that so many drivers lack a basic understanding of car repairs. We don't expect everyone to be experts at helping with breakdowns, but if drivers can learn how to fix the most common problems more people may be willing to stop and help out.

"Drivers also need to ensure they have adequate rescue provision so they are not stranded by the roadside in the event of a breakdown, and follow our vehicle maintenance tips to help prevent an incident."

Vehicle maintenance tips from RAC Rescue:

  • Try to avoid hitting your tyres against kerbs, especially when parking. It can cause the tyre to weaken without showing any damage on the outside.
  • Don't just use screen wash to stop your water freezing in the winter. It's great at removing insects from your windscreen in the summer too.
  • Check your spare tyre from time to time - you never know when you might need it. And it's an offence to fit a spare that's not roadworthy.
  • Change your wiper blades every six months, even if they haven't been used very often. The rubber can deteriorate over time when exposed to the atmosphere.
  • Carry spare bulbs. On mainland Europe it's compulsory to carry an emergency bulb kit. Put them in your boot and make sure you have your owner's manual so you know how to fit them.
  • Check your car's oil level when the engine is cold. If you do it after the engine's been on, the oil may be deposited higher on the dip stick and, on some vehicles, could give a false reading.

Other key research findings:

  • One in five people do not know how to check a car's oil/water
  • Nearly one third do not know how to push start a car
  • Over one third do not know how to jump start a car
  • Over one third do not know how to change a tyre (57% of women compared to 17% of men)
  • Nearly half of all motorists do not know how to fill a tank with spare fuel.


RAC Press office contact:
Vicki Burn 01603 684224/07800 692909, Sonia Clarke (020 7908 6570), Amy Funston (0207 908 6433) or Jennifer Hardisty (020 7908 6465)

Notes to editors:
RAC commissioned Tickbox to carry out the research. Tickbox surveyed 1,004 UK motorists between 02/10/07 and 09/10/07.

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists.  Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

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

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at http://www.racnews.co.uk/.

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