Stranded on the drive

Article date: 17 November 2010

  • Motorists 50% more likely to breakdown at home in winter

Winter is on its way and RAC is urging motorists to prepare their vehicles for cold and snow. There’s a lot that can be learnt from what drivers experienced on the roads last winter. Whether it was running out of fuel, getting stuck in snow, forgetting to renew their breakdown cover or simply not making it out of the drive, motorists had a hard time of it.

RAC Members were 50% more likely to break down at home last December and January than in summer1. The long and severe winter saw RAC receive over 1.35 million calls and attend more than 750,000 breakdowns, with 4 January being the busiest day with nearly 15,000 breakdowns2 – one of the busiest ever in the organisation’s 113 year history.

According to RAC’s analysis of breakdowns last winter, Monday was the most common day for motorists to breakdown. The most common reasons for winter callouts were:

  1. Battery related
  2. Tyre related (eg puncture, no spare)
  3. Road traffic accident
  4. Alternator
  5. Engine flooded.

Regional patrol manager David Hawes said: “Winter driving proved challenging and unpredictable for many last year. With some weather forecasters suggesting another cold winter motorists would be wise to ensure their vehicles are prepped for winter before the bad weather hits.

“Over 6,000 motorists without breakdown cover contacted RAC for help last winter and I’d urge those with cover in place to double-check it’s to the level they assume or require. It may come with their bank account or car insurance, in which case again they should check the level of cover it provides - are they covered, for instance, if they break down at home or only by the roadside?”

With breakdowns "at home" most common in winter, RAC is offering free "at home" protection3  for new members buying personal based roadside and recovery cover. This can save drivers up to £34, in addition to an online discount when buying cover at

No-one wants to be stranded on the roadside – or their drive, even – this winter, though. So to help prepare their car for cold and snow, RAC is also recommending drivers carry out a few basic checks that can potentially prevent a breakdown:

  • Check tyre pressure (and your spare tyre, too!), tread depth (at least 3mm is advisable in winter conditions) and oil level
  • Check all lights are working correctly and remember to keep them clean
  • Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting
  • Screenwash additive should be added to prevent freezing.


For further information, please contact:

Erik Nelson
RAC Press Office: 01603 682264 / 07989427086

Vicki Burn
RAC Press Office: 01603 684224 / 07800 692909

Lucy Haughey
RAC Press Office: 01603 688891 / 07800 690149 

Notes to editors:

Breakdown case studies are available on request. 

A vodcast offering winter driving tips from RAC patrol Louise French and RAC’s Will Shepherd, winner of the BBC’s Young Mechanic of the Year award 2009, is also available on request.

Media interested in covering the view from the road with an RAC patrol in your local area can also be arranged via the press office.

1 RAC members were 50% more likely to breakdown at home in December 2009 and January 2010 compared with June and July 2010.

2 Data taken from RAC Data and Insight into service breakdowns from 1 December 2009 to 28 February 2010.

3 Free At Home cover is only available on the minimum purchase of a combined UK Roadside and Recovery package on a personal cover basis for the first year of membership only. RAC Horse Trailer Assistance and Blue Badge cover are excluded from the offer. This offer is available to new RAC Members only, cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer and may be withdrawn at any time. Maximum saving of £34 is based on family cover for Roadside, Recovery and At Home product.

About RAC

With around seven million customers, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists.  Whether it's roadside assistance, insurance, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its customers and has been ranked first for customer satisfaction by J D Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study for the last four years. RAC was also the top-named breakdown organisation in the July 2009, January 2010 and July 2010 half-yearly UK Customer Satisfaction Index from the Institute of Customer Service.

RAC Insurance has also been awarded the Best Overall Vehicle Insurance Provider 2009/10 by

RAC is part of Aviva, the world's sixth largest* insurance group, serving 53 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at

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* based on gross worldwide premiums at 31 December 2009


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