Roadside Roulette

False economy of driving without breakdown cover

19 November 2008

More than £120 million has been lost in the last year by drivers who broke down after playing 'roadside roulette' and gambling wrongly that they wouldn't need breakdown cover, according to the AA.

Some 2 million people broke down without any form of breakdown cover, with many forking out more than three times the price of basic cover when they had to arrange emergency one-off garage assistance, according to new research by the UK's biggest breakdown organisation1.

As many people look for cost savings to help them get through the credit crunch, the AA advises that breakdown cover is still worth considering to avoid unforeseen costs that many can ill afford.

In a national survey it found that people who broke down without cover and had to call out a garage paid nearly £90 per time on average, with much higher charges when the vehicle could not be fixed and had to be recovered.

This is before you consider the extra time, stress and inconvenience of trying to find a garage that can help when you may be in a vulnerable location or the dark of night.

By comparison, around-the-clock breakdown cover is relatively inexpensive, with AA membership starting from £29.

Not worth the risk

AA patrol of the year Andy Taylor AA Patrol of the Year Andy Taylor says: "It might seem tempting to save a few quid now and gamble that your car will carry you through the downturn without crunching to a halt – but driving without breakdown cover is like roadside roulette.

"It will cost you dearly if you break down – in money, time and sheer stress. Just ask those who have lost £120 million in the last year – that's enough to buy 12,000 new cars.

"Battery and tyre problems and mishaps with keys cause a third of all breakdowns and can strike at any time, regardless of the age or type of car. Driving unprotected is just not worth the risk."

The AA's warning comes on the eve of the peak winter breakdown season. Heavy use of car heaters and lights means you're twice more likely to run down your battery in winter than in summer, and calls to fix flat tyres peak in November, when they are 40 per cent more likely than in June.


1The AA estimates that 8 million people drive without any form of breakdown cover, and in any year one in four of these (2 million) suffer a breakdown. Assuming they had to pay the average of £90 for one-off garage assistance, each would be out of pocket by £61 compared to minimum breakdown cover at £29. Two million people paying out an extra £61 are collectively £122 million worse off.

Breakdown advice from the AA »


19 November 2008