Monday 29 December was one of the AA's busiest days. Monday 5 January expected to be very busy too
Record low temperatures for 2014** helped make Monday one of the AA’s busiest days for breakdowns in five years with a large jump in call-outs to flat batteries.
By the end of the day, the AA had attended around 18,000 breakdown call-outs across the UK.
Olly Kunc, AA road operations director, says: “It’s the cold that caused these breakdowns and Monday was an exceptionally busy day as the freezing temperatures coincided with large numbers people out and about, including high street shoppers.
Our patrols and call-handling employees did a great job although we’re sorry that large peaks in calls for help meant that some members had to wait longer than normal.
The main return to work day (Monday, 5 January) is expected to be one of the busiest of 2015 for car breakdowns as many vehicles get left sitting idle over the festive period.
The AA expects to attend around 19,000 call-outs – 30% busier than normal – and it will have extra patrols on duty.
An AA-Populus Motoring Panel survey* of 16,165 AA members found that a third (35% male vs 30% female) of respondents will have at least one car standing unused throughout the festive period that will be relied on come the first day back.
AA members in South-east England (36%) are most likely to be in this situation, compared to those in North-east England (28%) and London (29%).
The first working day back in January is traditionally the busiest day of the year for breakdowns with flat batteries the main culprit
Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year
Mark Spowage, AA patrol of the year, says: “The first working day back in January is traditionally the busiest day of the year for breakdowns with flat batteries the main culprit. The issue is that many cars get left unused for up to a fortnight in often cold conditions, which causes the power output of the battery to drop.
“If your car has been left sitting idle or done mostly short, stop-start journeys, ideally trickle charge the battery or, if weather conditions permit, take it out before Monday for at least half an hour to boost the battery.
“When starting, it helps to switch off all the electrics and dip the clutch but, if it doesn’t fire up initially, use the starter in short five-second bursts, leaving thirty seconds between attempts to allow the battery to recover.
“If your car has been struggling to start, get the battery tested, as they only have an effective life of around five years. Many garages offer free or reduced price winter car checks.”
The AA-Populus survey* also found that around a fifth (22%) of respondents plan to drive more than 20 miles on New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay with 14% covering that distance on New Year’s Day. The Northern Irish (31%) followed by those in Yorkshire and Humberside (24%) are most likely to be racking up more than 20 miles on New Year’s Eve, compared to only 17% of Londoners. The Northern Irish (24%) again top the driving charts on New Year’s Day with the Welsh (11%) least likely to be driving that far.
Although commuter traffic will be a lot quieter this week, there is likely to be significant daytime leisure traffic, particularly around major retail outlets. There is also likely to be heavier than usual traffic on Anglo-Scottish routes (M6 towards Carlisle, A74M and M74, A1 and A68 towards Edinburgh) and some road closures in Edinburgh from this weekend, in preparation for Hogmanay.
On New Year’s Eve, most retail outlets will close early; and there will be further road closures in many Scottish towns and cities and around Trafalgar Square, London, in preparation for the Hogmanay/New Year celebrations.
There will be another wave of traffic during the late afternoon of Sunday, 4 January, as people head home in time for the start of the new school term.