Mucky Motorists Urged to Clean up Their Acts

1 in 8 cars go for over a year without any cleaning inside

8 April 2008

Over 4 million cars1 on UK roads are only cleaned out once a year or less...creating unhygienic and dangerous driving conditions. The startling figure is highlighted in research released today by the AA, to draw attention to the dangers of these 'clutter cans' and encourage motorists to get cleaning.

Whilst 54% of Brits clean their homes on a weekly basis, nearly half (46%) confess they only de-clutter their car's interior once every six months, unaware that seemingly harmless in-car litter can put motorists and passengers at unnecessary risk, including:

  • Bottles rolling under pedals impeding braking, acceleration and gear changes
  • Dirty windows obscuring vision
  • Discarded toys transforming into dangerous missiles when travelling at speed

To help motorists clean up their act, the UK's largest breakdown organisation is advising drivers to complete a regular 'muck-free MOT' on their vehicles, encouraging car owners to store and secure loose items and remove surplus clutter on a regular basis.

The survey of over 1300 motorists also showed that non-essential items are taking precedence over key car maintenance tools. Worryingly, CD cases and umbrellas were more likely to be stored in-car than vital items such as jump leads or a torch – leaving drivers potentially vulnerable in a breakdown situation. Of particular concern to the AA are the UK's younger drivers (aged 17-24) who are the least prepared for an emergency, with a change of clothes, CDs, work documents, food, drink and magazines all taking precedence over essential maintenance items.

But it's not just teens who are guilty of dirty driving - delving further into the glove compartments and under the seats of the nation's motors, the AA has found that over two-thirds (67%) of motorists – across all ages – are harbouring copious amounts of rubbish in their cars. Key clutter criminals include food wrappers, old parking tickets and discarded work documents whilst one in ten parents even keep a playschool's worth of children's toys on the back seat without thinking of the damage a flying building block could do should they have to brake suddenly.

AA Patrol of the Year, Adam Ashmore AA Patrol of the Year, Adam Ashmore advises:"AA patrols come across some really strange things when out on a job and whilst we don't cast judgement on in-car hygiene habits, drivers do need to be aware of the affect clutter can have on their safety.

"Clutter in cars is understandable, especially if you have children, but the key is storing it safely. Simple tips like keeping a carrier bag in the car to collect rubbish or a box in the boot for toys can make a huge difference. Plus, making room for a few essential maintenance items is incredibly important. In an emergency or breakdown situation you'll feel much safer and less stressed if you've done a little planning in advance."

Notes to Editors

The research for AA was carried out online by between 21.02.2008 and 26.02.2008 amongst a nationally representative sample of 1349 UK adult car owners aged 16+.

1Calculated as 1 in 8 of the 32 million licensed cars on the road as of 2005 (


8 April 2008