30 December 2016
The main return to work day (Tuesday, 3 January) is expected to be one of the busiest of 2017 for car breakdowns, says the AA, as many vehicles get left unused over the festive period.
The AA alone expects to attend more than 14,000 call-outs – 41 per cent busier than the average Tuesday since 1 February – and it will have extra patrols on duty.
Batteries and tyres
On the equivalent day this year (Monday 4 January 2016), the AA was called to more than 7,000 vehicles that wouldn’t start or had a flat battery. On an average day in 2016, around 1 in 5 breakdowns were due to starting problems - but on the first day back to work, especially following freezing conditions over much of the UK, this this is expected to rise to 1 in 3.
Additionally, there were 34% more flat-tyres or punctures at the start of the year than any other day on average.
John Snowling, AA patrol of the year, says: “The first working day back in January is one of the busiest days of the year for breakdowns, with flat batteries and flat tyres the main culprits.
The first working day back in January is one of the busiest days of the year for breakdowns, with flat batteries and flat tyres the main culprits
“A third of households have more than one car but over Christmas, only one tends to get used for visiting friends and family or to hit the Boxing Day sales. The main commuter car often gets left unused, which means problems go unnoticed until it’s time to head back to work.
“Cold conditions cause the power output of the battery to drop and shorter journeys tend to drain your battery’s energy faster. To get a good charge in time to start up the commute, try to drive your car a couple of times for at least half an hour each trip. Check the tyres over the weekend and get any punctures repaired before the rush back to work.”
New Year travel
An AA-Populus survey* of 19,317 AA members found that more than a quarter (26%) plan to drive more than 20 miles on New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay, with 18 per cent covering that distance on New Year’s Day.
The Northern Irish (37%), followed by those in Wales (31%), are most likely to be racking up more than 20 miles on New Year’s Eve, compared to only 24 per cent of Londoners. The Northern Irish (22%) again top the driving charts on New Year’s Day, with those in the North West (17%) least likely to be driving that far.
Winter driving advice
With a cold start to the New Year predicted, the AA is also advising drivers to be prepared for hazardous conditions and allow extra time for winter journeys, including time to de-ice the car.
John Snowling, AA Patrol of the Year, says: “With widespread frost forecast for the start of January, driving conditions for the journey back to work are likely to be hazardous, so it’s important to do the basic checks on your car before setting off. This includes topping up the anti-freeze and screen wash, replacing worn or damaged wiper blades, ensuring all lights are working and checking the tyres - we recommend at least 3mm of tread for the winter.
Black ice isn't easily seen, so drive gently and allow plenty of space between you and the car in front
“Black ice isn't easily seen, so drive gently and allow plenty of space between you and the car in front to account for increased stopping distances. Take warm layers and keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel in case of unexpected delays.
“Opportunist car thieves welcome the icy conditions,so never leave the car unattended with the engine running and the keys inside.”
* Source: Populus interviewed 19,317 adults aged 18+ on The AA-Populus online panel between 15-22 November 2016. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.