Beat the return-to-work blues

Breakdowns and New Year traffic

2 January expected to be one of the top days for breakdowns in 2013

2 January expected to be one of the top days for breakdowns in 2013

The return to work on Wednesday (2 January) is expected to be one of the busiest days of 2013 for breakdowns, says the AA.

We're likely to attend up to 17,000 call-outs – that's around 60% busier than normal.

Naturally, a big jump in flat batteries is expected as many people's cars have been left unused over festive period.

Gently does it

Andy Smith, AA Patrol of the Year, says: "The first working day back in January* is traditionally the busiest day of the year for breakdowns. The issue is that many cars get left unused in often cold, wet conditions over the festive period, so come January, you get problems like flat batteries.

...dip the clutch when starting as it takes some of the load off the starter motor"

Andy Smith, AA Patrol

"Although it's been milder, further bad weather is forecast over New Year, so many people will wake up with a breakdown headache on Wednesday.

"If your car has been left sitting, ideally trickle charge the battery or, if weather conditions permit, take it out before then for at least half an hour to boost the battery.

"Switch off all the electrics and dip the clutch when starting 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."

New Year and return-to-work traffic

An AA/Populus survey** of 22,287 AA members found that around a quarter (24%) plan to drive on New Year's Eve and just over a fifth (21%) will hit the road on New Year's Day.

The Northern Irish followed by the Scots are most likely to be venturing out, while Londoners are, unsurprisingly, least likely to drive over New Year.

Going the distance

Of those planning to drive on New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay and New Year’s Day:

  • Over 63% will travel 0–24 miles
  • Around 14% will drive 25–49 miles
  • 9% will be in the car for 50–99 miles
  • Roughly 5% are going 100–199 miles
  • 2% will be driving 200–499 miles
  • No-one will be travelling 500+ miles
  • Around 3% don't know

Although commuter traffic has been negligible this week, and will be the same on Monday (31 December), Trafficmaster expects significant daytime (10am–4pm) 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, 6 January, according to Trafficmaster, as people head home in time for the start of the new school term.

For more advice, please see our winter motoring section.

* People in Scotland return to work on Thursday, 3 January due to the extra bank holiday.

** Source: Populus interviewed 22,287 adults aged 18+ on the AA/Populus online panel between 22–29 November 2012. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

(28 December 2012)