Territorial dogs, steamy couples and vehicles of worship

Article date: 17 December 2008

  • RAC patrols reveal weirdest call-outs

No one day is ever the same for an RAC patrol as new research* reveals the weirdest and wackiest call-outs patrols respond to.  

Animal-related breakdowns top the list, with nearly three-quarters (71%) of RAC patrols attending a breakdown involving pets, wild animals or birds. From a close encounter with an alligator, to animals inhabiting bonnets, engines and dashboards - RAC patrols have seen it all.

Dogs are frequent offenders most commonly locking their owners out of the vehicle, especially on petrol forecourts, by activating the locks with their paws. Swallowing the keys, chewing the wires, eating the upholstery and steering wheel are the next most common dog-related callouts. One patrol even recovered a member who kept their dog's ashes in the car as a permanent memorial!

As well as mischievous pooches, patrols also approach steamed up windows with care as nearly one in three patrols (31%) report encountering amorous couples on arrival at a breakdown scene!

RAC top 10 most unusual call-outs:

  1. A patrol called out to a car that wouldn't start discovered the culprits; a family of rats living in the fuse box, who had chewed through all the wires.
  2. One RAC member was mystified as to why they couldn't unlock their car. On arrival, the patrol had to break it gently that they had the wrong car!
  3. One member was trying to protect rather more than his car - he had broken down at the side of the road with over £80,000 in cash in his boot!
  4. A patrol had to make it snappy when a van taking an alligator to a zoo broke down. Another speedy patrol helped restart a transporter taking a cheetah to a zoo before it was dinner time!
  5. A hapless groom nearly didn't marry his bride when he locked the wedding rings in his car - thankfully the RAC patrol saved the day just moments before the ceremony.
  6. A £30,000 violin had to be rescued by a RAC patrol from a jammed seatbelt so that it's musical maestro owner could get to a concert in time.
  7. A kitten being driven to his new home panicked on arrival and escaped into the dashboard of the vehicle. An RAC patrol undertook the rescue, dismantling the entire dashboard, and recovering the kitten safely. Similar callouts have involved snakes, mice and hamsters.
  8. On opening the back of a broken down van, a patrol was startled by 17 pairs of eyes staring back at him belonging to a cast of falcons.
  9. One RAC patrol rescued a referee on his way to a crucial league football match, just hours before the game was due to kick off.
  10. An RAC patrol rescued a police car, stuck up to its windows in mud having chased a runaway criminal across a ploughed field.

Overall, almost four in 10 (39%) patrols have helped a motorist get to a life-changing event such as a wedding on time and one even reported helping to deliver a baby.

RAC patrol of the year Iain Vale commented: "Our patrols respond to around 2.7 million roadside assistance call-outs every year and this survey reveals the extend of the very odd and unusual nature of what sometimes awaits us.

"Whether it's meeting members who keep their dogs ashes in an urn in the car, calls asking whether they can extend breakdown cover to their electric wheelchairs or a new kitten that's panicked and hidden in the dashboard, RAC patrols aren't afraid to get their hands dirty and really can be relied on to come to the rescue of members."


RAC Press office contacts:
Lucy Haughey on 01603 688891/07800 690149 and Vicki Burn on 01603 684224/07800 692909

Notes to editors:

* An in-depth survey was completed by 569 RAC patrols in early 2008.

The results were compiled by The Survey Shop

Internal data and statistics have been supplied by RAC MI.

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, 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 Direct Insurance and HPI.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and has been ranked first for customer service by JD Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study for the past two years.

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 is part of Aviva, the world's fifth largest insurance group which operates in 27 countries. 

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

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