RAC warns of new year traffic chaos

Article date: 2 January 2008

  • 2 January worst day for breakdowns in 5 years

RAC predicts that 2 January 2008 will be the worst day in the coming year for vehicle breakdowns, with a 73%* increase expected as millions of motorists return to work.

  • Motorists may be in for a nasty shock on 2 January when they get back into their cars. After a week and a half of Christmas festivities, the lack of use during this year's long break from work and wintry weather conditions makes a breakdown far more likely
  • New RAC data reveals that for the last five years, there has been at least a 50% rise in breakdowns on the first day back after the Christmas and New Year break - and this year they are predicting a 73% increase
  • RAC has ensured extra patrols will be available on 2 January to deal with the additional demand

David Bizley, technical director, RAC Rescue, commented: "The long break from work combined with wintry weather is a sure recipe for the worst day for breakdowns we've seen in several years. At this time of year the electrical systems in cars have a hard time as drivers are more likely to use their lights, heated windows, and heater fans.

"The starter motor also has to work harder to start the engine on those cold frosty mornings, making a battery failure far more likely. We are urging motorists to make some basic preparations, such as turning over the car engine and factoring in extra time, to ensure that they're not caught out on the 2 January."

RAC Rescue has put together some tips to help motorists avoid breakdown nightmares:

  • Don't leave the car unused for the whole period between Christmas and New Year. It's a good idea to turn the engine over to ensure everything is working as it should be and allow the engine to reach operating temperatures - taking care that it doesn't overheat
  • If you have a garage, use it, or try to leave your vehicle undercover
  • Check oil and water levels. Ensure they are topped up correctly. Pay particular attention to the anti-freeze content of the cooling system. Check your owner's handbook for information on the recommended anti freeze to use
  • In cold weather avoid frozen locks by using a spray of water dispersant/lubricant eg WD40 - also carry a lock de-icer
  • Frozen door seals prevent the doors being opened - apply silicone furniture polish to the door seals to prevent this
  • If key fob batteries are left in the cold, this can cause them to not work - carry a spare fob/warm fob in hands if it fails to operate the locking system
  • Avoid queues at petrol stations by filling up the tank before the morning you go back to work
  • If the weather is icy, use a windscreen scraper or a de-icer to remove frost from your vehicle before setting off. Don't use warm water from a kettle, as resulting problems may include a cracked windscreen. Also use a windscreen additive to prevent washer jets freezing and ensure clear vision of the road
  • Inspect your battery electrolyte level, topping this up with distilled water if necessary. Check the battery connections ensuring that they are tight and free from any corrosion and don't forget that battery acid is highly corrosive to skin and paint work
  • If your battery has been sluggish have it checked before it is too late - most accessory shops and garages offer free testing. On batteries with removable tops ensure the electrolyte level is at the correct level, topping this up with distilled water if necessary. Check the battery connections ensuring that they are tight and free from any corrosion and apply Vaseline to prevent further corrosion occurring. Don't forget that battery acid is highly corrosive to skin and paint work
  • Wrap up warm and take a blanket, waterproof clothing, sensible footwear and a fully charged mobile phone in case of breakdown
  • If travelling allow extra time for your journey ensure you have enough fuel for the journey as not all fuel stations will be open over the festive period. Let friends and relatives know of your expected journey routes and times of arrival if travelling in remote areas

Motorists can find out more information on winter driving at the RAC Know How section at www.rac.co.uk


RAC Press office contact:
Vicki Burn (01603 684224/07800 692909) or Sonia Clarke (0207 908 6570) or Jennifer Hardisty (0207 908 6465)

Note to editors

*The number of Service Breakdowns(SB) on the average day in 2007 is 7,608.  The number of SBs predicted for 2nd January 2008 is 13,140. Therefore the percentage increase is 73% (13,140 - 7608 = 5532.  5532/7608 x 100 = 73) 

In case of a breakdown, call RAC's helpline on 0800 82 82 82.

About RAC

  • With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organizations, 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 per cent.
  • RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at http://www.racnews.co.uk/.

Back to top