Breakdown Good Samaritans

Older drivers more likely to stop and help at the roadside

01 August 2011

Older drivers are much more likely than younger drivers to stop to help if they saw someone broken down at the roadside, according to an AA/Populus poll of 16,850 AA members.

Almost one quarter of drivers would not stop to help as they would suspect that the breakdown was a con trick.

We asked the AA/Populus panel, "If you saw someone by the roadside (not a motorway) by a vehicle that looked like they had broken down, what would your reaction be?"

  • 12% would definitely not stop (8% male, 18% female)
  • 16% 18-24 yr olds would definitely not stop compared to 10% of over 65s
  • 61% would stop but only if comfortable that it was safe and that they could help (65% male, 55% female)
  • 22% think most people have mobile phones so can seek assistance themselves 24% would be concerned it was a con trick

Londoners would be least likely to stop whereas those in Scotland (67%), Northern Ireland (66%), North East (64%), and South West (63%) would be most likely to stop possibly due to the more remote geographical areas.

Drivers in the East Midlands were most likely to think that the broken down vehicle could be a con. More affluent drivers (ABs) were more likely to stop than semi-skilled or unemployed drivers (DEs).

If someone stops for you

We also asked the panel how they would feel if they were broken down at the roadside and someone else stopped. Almost one fifth of drivers (17%) would be relieved if someone stopped, with drivers in Northern Ireland (26%) and Scotland (22%) being most relieved.

Just 4% would wish that someone hadn't stopped, but 9% of young drivers felt this way. Nearly one half of drivers (48%) would assume the person stopping to be well meaning and would be appreciative.


In this day and age, it is perhaps surprising that 61% of AA members say they would stop to help fellow drivers if they felt it was safe to do so.

Edmund King, AA President, said: "Our poll shows that the 'Good Samaritan' is alive and well and driving along the highways and byways of Britain. On the other hand it is disappointing that almost 40% don't feel able to stop.

"It is interesting that older drivers seem much more likely to stop to help other drivers and are three times less likely than younger drivers to wish someone hadn't stopped to help them."

Breakdown cover

It is heartening to hear that we do still have drivers willing to help others but ultimately it is in the interest of drivers to have breakdown cover as a well-intentioned amateur will not be able fix a broken radiator.

Those without breakdown cover, unable to be assisted by passers-by, could end up paying six times the amount of annual breakdown cover.