The most stressful breakdown situations

Breaking down on the way to the airport is the most stressful scenario

Breaking down on way to the airport is the most stressful breakdown scenario

Breaking down on way to the airport is the most stressful breakdown scenario

Conking out on the way to the airport is the most stressful breakdown scenario, reports the AA, which has updated its popular AA app to let you track the approaching patrol.

AA-Populus research among 23,450 AA members* revealed that anxiety about missing a flight would cause the most stress for more than half (56%), followed by breaking down in bad weather (43%) and driving abroad (31%).

The Northern Irish (60%) would be the most likely to get stressed if they broke down on the way to the airport, fractionally ahead of Londoners and those in South-east England (59%), compared to North-west England (51%).

Coming to a halt on the motorway is a bigger worry for drivers in the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside (31%); being stuck in an isolated or rural area for Londoners (28%); and breaking down on your own for those in South-east England (16%).

  • Breaking down on way to airport most stressful breakdown scenario
  • More men (31%) than women (18%) would be anxious breaking down with family/children in the car
  • Women more concerned about suffering breakdown in an isolated area, at night or on their own
  • New AA app lets you track the patrol on your phone

Gender differences

While both men and women would be most anxious breaking down on the way to the airport (60% men vs 49% women), men would also worry more about foul weather (48% men vs 35% women), driving abroad (35% men vs 24% women) and with family/children in the car (31% men vs 18% women).

By contrast, women rate driving on my own (35% women vs 3% men); foul weather (35% women vs 48% men); at night (33% women vs 18% men); and in an isolated/rural area (32% women vs 18% men) as other stressful breakdown scenarios.

Research results

The most stressful breakdown circumstance when driving (first-third mentions combined):

  • On the way to the airport to catch a flight - 56%
  • In foul weather (snow/rain) - 43%
  • Driving abroad - 31%
  • With family/children in the car - 27%
  • On a motorway - 27%
  • In an isolated/rural area - 23%
  • At night - 23%
  • In an unfamiliar area - 17%
  • Driving on my own - 15%
  • On narrow country lanes - 15%
  • Driving on holiday - 7%
  • With pets in the car - 5%
  • Other - 1%
  • Don’t know - 3%

We attend around 10,000 breakdowns a day and AA patrols are trained to help take the stress out of the situation

Donald MacSporran, AA technical director

Breaking Bad

Breaking down in any situation can be bad enough but the free AA app provides reassurance that help is on its way, allowing the AA member to track the patrol’s progress on their smartphone.

Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year, says: “As an AA patrol, we see people in all manner of situations as vehicles can break down at any time. The yellow van or truck is always a reassuring sight but you can now track it on your phone as it comes to your rescue using The AA app.”

Donald MacSporran, AA technical director, says: “We attend around 10,000 breakdowns a day and AA patrols are trained to help take the stress out of the situation. Patrols like to say they ‘fix the member first, then the car’, so will establish what your priorities are. Quite often, it’s not the car – it’s getting to the airport or collecting the children.”

To help avoid the stress and inconvenience of a breakdown, the AA advises that regular maintenance checks and servicing can prevent up to half of car breakdowns.

The AA app

The free AA app includes the AA route planner and traffic data, as well as vehicle reminders for MOT, tax, insurance and service dates. Enhanced features include a fuel price checker, parking-space finder and dashboard warning light information.

To mark the development of the app, members who download and sign in or update their existing version of The AA app before 30 April 2015 will be in with a chance of winning a new Volkswagen Golf GTI**.


(2 March 2015)

* 23,450 adults, aged 18+, responded to the AA-Populus online panel between 11-17 June 2013. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

** Full terms and conditions available online