Breakdowns increase in summer
Summer 2019 is expected to be the busiest time of year for breakdowns but simple, quick, easy checks keep your vehicle reliable, Highways England suggested. This company – that is responsible for motorways and major A-roads – is expecting to respond to a further 700 breakdowns a week as warm weather encourages people to go on holiday, take day trips, and see family.
But why? Summer heat and long journeys punish vehicles that have not been properly maintained. Their engines can overheat, for example. Highways England said overheating is a ‘common’ issue. Tyre problems and a lack of fuel cause countless other breakdowns.
Richard Leonard, Highways England Head of Road Safety, confirmed: ‘We are expecting a big increase in breakdowns over the next few weeks. We are therefore urging drivers to remember the basics of motorway driving – including how to carry out easy vehicle checks’.
Car safety checks
Inspect the tyres first. This is important as they influence how the vehicle brakes, handles, and rides. By law, a tyre’s tread depth must be at least 1.6mm for the central 75% of its width and around the circumference. Also check its pressure and look for damage such as punctures, bulges, and major cracks. Now assess the:
- engine oil (confirm via the dipstick that the engine has enough oil to be properly cooled, cleaned, and lubricated)
- engine coolant (check via the markers on the reservoir that there is enough coolant to stop the engine overheating)
- washer fluid (ensure there is enough washer fluid to remove debris from the windscreen to optimise your view)
- lights (confirm every bulb works so you can see – and be seen)
- fuel (check you have enough fuel to reach your destination)
What to do if you breakdown on the motorway
Highways England also confirmed what to do if your car becomes problematic on the motorway. The key is to get out of the way of traffic to reduce the risk of collision. Exit via a slip road. If this is impractical, park on the hard shoulder or in an emergency refuge area. Depending on your scenario it might then be safest to:
- exit the vehicle via a door on your left
- stand behind any metal safety barrier
- put on a high visibility jacket
- call your breakdown company or Highways England (0300 1235000)
More concerning is if your car stops in a running lane and you cannot get out. Stay calm and keep your belt on. Now activate the car’s hazard warning lights and dial 999. Help will be forthcoming.
Motorway driving tips
- never drive in a lane marked with a red X
- keep to the speed limits on show
- the hard shoulder is always marked with a solid white unbroken line - if there’s no speed limit displayed above it or a red X is displayed, you must not use it except in an emergency
- a broken white line indicates a normal running lane
- if the hard shoulder is being used as an extra lane, then use the designated emergency areas for any emergencies
- if you experience difficulties with your vehicle, eg warning light, then exit the motorway immediately, if you can do so safely