2012 in the AA's 'rear-view' mirror

An Olympic year for breakdowns, windscreens, wasps and nights away in hotels

24 December 2012

An Olympic year for breakdowns, windscreens, wasps and nights away in hotels

An Olympic year for breakdowns, windscreens, wasps and nights away in hotels

The AA came to the rescue of almost 3.5 million members whose vehicles broke down in 2012.

Figures from the UK’s biggest motoring organisation reveal that Friday, 3 February, was the busiest day for breakdowns in 2012 with around 19,000 call-outs due to the freezing weather.

Around half a million call-outs were to battery-related problems, maintaining its position as the most common breakdown; and around 150,000 batteries were replaced.

Flat tyres and other tyre problems (357,500) was the second most common call-out followed by problems with lights (169,000).

AA breakdown facts of 2012

  • We rescued one in ten UK drivers.
  • Around 150,000 members rescued after breaking down on the motorway.
  • Mondays are the busiest days for breakdowns.
  • North-west central London is UK’s breakdown hotspot with more than 62,000 call-outs.
  • The most northerly breakdown point geographically was in Haroldswick, Unst, in Shetland.
  • Hard-working patrol Mohammed Ilyas of Small Heath, Birmingham, attended the most breakdowns – a huge 3,320.
  • More than 2,600 children and nearly 1,000 pets had to be rescued from inside locked cars.
  • AA patrols fixed or replaced more than 5,500 light bulbs and nearly 2,000 windscreen wipers.
  • AA recovery patrols recovered just over 850,000 members a total distance of nearly 18.5 million miles across the length and breadth of the UK.
  • Longest recovery was 767 miles from Cowbridge, Wales, to Shetland.
  • AA AutoWindshields also had a busy year carrying out a massive 162,000 windscreen replacements and 88,000 glass repairs.
  • AA patrols have 31,944 years’ experience between them – around double the industry average.

Top ten breakdowns in 2012

  1. Batteries – 470,500
  2. Tyres – 357,500
  3. Lights – 169,000
  4. Alternator – 121,000
  5. Clutch – 113,500
  6. Keys (including locked in) – 97,000
  7. Starter motor – 88,000
  8. Engine – 73,000
  9. Brakes – 52,500
  10. Fuel pump – 49,500

(Figures quoted to the nearest 500.)

On a lighter note…

Besides the Olympics and Diamond Jubilee, 2012 also saw:

  • The centenary of AA roadside call boxes. There are now only 19 remaining AA wooden sentry boxes on public roads (list available on request), eight of which are Grade II listed
  • AA motorbike patrols made a comeback in Brighton
  • Reintroduction of the iconic ‘Highland Patrol’ in northern Scotland


Andy Smith, AA patrol of the year, says: "It's been a busy year for the whole country and the AA has been no exception – it's good to know we've helped so many members get on their way this year.

"Our top breakdowns are remarkably consistent but we’ve noticed a marked increase in the number of problems with lights over the last 12 months, which may show that fewer drivers feel able to change bulbs themselves.

"Although modern cars have longer service intervals, the basics of car maintenance haven't really changed, so it still pays to pop the bonnet and do the regular checks.

"However, although up to half of breakdowns are preventable, often you have no control over them which can potentially leave you in a stressful and dangerous situation.

"Whether it's on a Monday morning or a Sunday night, breakdown cover offers year-round peace of mind for far less than the cost of one-off emergency assistance from a garage."

AA friend at home too…

The AA’s Home Emergency Response service saved customers from all kinds of problems in their homes.

  • The AA’s millionth customer joined the Home Emergency Response service this year
  • Two thirds of call-outs were due to problems with boilers or plumbing
  • Did you know that several thousand wasps can live in one nest? Home Emergency Response engineers have removed pests from over one thousand homes – which must be millions of wasps…

AAnd away…

Hotel inspectors continued to rate the nation’s hotels and B&Bs, spending a whopping 3,154 nights away inspecting establishments.

Gaining and keeping your driving skills

The AA Charitable Trust was awarded a prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety Award for the development and promotion of its free ‘Drive Confident’ courses, which are run through the AA Driving School.

Some parents admitted spending 50 hours a month driving mum and dad's taxi

As well as that, research from the AA Driving School told many parents what they already knew – they spend a very long time transporting their children about in the car. Some parents admitted they spend as much as 50 hours a month driving mum and dad's taxi – which amounts to an enormous 25 days a year.

On the plus side, there's drive to encourage the next generation of motorists. Around 19 AA Driving School instructors were on hand to help under-17s have their first experience of driving at AA World at the Silverstone Classic in July.

AA Insurance highlights

Insurance has been very topical this year with changes to legislation, flooding and the European court of Justice gender ruling and AA Insurance has commented regularly on these issues. Among the more interesting highlights during the year were:

  • July: freak weather peppered Leicestershire with cricket-ball sized hailstones, which wrote off hundreds of cars. Nationally, 14,000 cars were estimated to have been damaged or written-off by flooding, storms and hail, costing insurers up to £35 million.
  • August: AA Insurance hailed the one-millionth uninsured car to be seized by police, but warned that uninsured driving remains a serious issue with 1 in 25 drivers still on Britain's roads without cover. Uninsured driving adds £30 to every car policy bought in Britain.
  • December: With the first frost of winter, AA Insurance was notified by 10 customers that their cars had been stolen off their drives while left with the engine running to warm up. Insurers are unlikely to meet claims for cars stolen in this way. This winter, never leave your car unattended with the keys in it.

(24 December 2012)