Summer getaway 2022

Schools out for summer

"Remember F.L.O.W.E.R". says AA Patrol of the Year

22nd July 2022

Summer getaway begins but a quarter of drivers fail to check their tyres before a long trip

  • All schools across UK closed as Britain begins the summer holiday season
  • Average of two children or pets per day accidentally locked in cars, including two dogs and a child in record temperatures
  • 25% of drivers set off on long trips without checking tyres
  • “Beware of a bumper-to-bumper summer” as more holiday in the UK

Drivers are being warned to check their car before road trips this weekend and throughout the summer as the school holidays kickstart the summer getaway with millions expected on the roads.

The UK’s biggest breakdown provider will have extra patrols on duty in the busiest areas but is urging drivers to carry out essential car checks before setting off for UK holidays and day trips this summer. An AA-Yonder survey showed a quarter (25%)* of drivers fail to check their vehicle’s tyres, and nearly two-fifths (39%)* of younger drivers (18-24) do not intend to check their oil level before a long trip. Following the AA’s simple acronym for vehicle checks before a trip can help to save stress later on;

  • Fuel
  • Lights
  • Oil
  • Water
  • Electrics
  • Rubber
The heatwave experienced by many at the start of the week meant there was a greater danger of tyre blow-outs. Some local authorities sent out gritters to put sand on roads to try to prevent the road surface from melting with some roads becoming swamps or developing holes. Tyre-related breakdowns regularly feature in the top three reasons call out the AA – others include battery-related and overheating faults.

As the cost-of-living crisis continues and inflation keeps rising, many families have opted to holiday across the UK this year. Drivers should be wary of traffic jams, especially on Fridays and Saturdays between now and 4 September as these are the main switch over dates for rental holiday homes.

Sean Sidley, AA Patrol of the Year, said: “Given the heatwave earlier this week, there is a chance many drivers will have delayed road trips until this part of the week to avoid travelling in the heat. That, combined with the end of term for all schools means it is likely to be very busy on the roads this weekend. With more people deciding to holiday in the UK this year, or just carrying out a series of day trips, drivers should beware of a bumper-to-bumper summer.

“Like oil and coolant levels, you should only check your tyre pressure when the tyres are cold. ‘Cold’ means that the car hasn’t been driven for a couple of hours. The pressure inside your tyres increases as they heat up, so if you set your pressures when your tyres are already warm, their pressure will probably be too low once they’ve cooled down. Driving in the early morning when temperatures are lowest can help keep your tyres cool.”


Setting off as early in the morning as possible can also reduce the chances of your engine overheating as the air temperature flowing through your car’s radiator is reduced at this time of the day. Overheated engines are one of the most likely causes of a roadside breakdown in very hot weather. Make sure that your vehicle’s cooling system is in good shape by having it checked by a mechanic. Radiator cooling fans are more likely to seize on older cars – especially those without air-conditioning meaning they won’t work when they’re needed. An overheated engine can lead to a costly repair, so preventative maintenance could save you money in the long run.

Carry plenty of water – at least one litre per person travelling. Keeping yourself and other occupants hydrated can help lower body temperatures in hot weather. If the worst should happen, you can keep yourself and those with you topped up with cool water while waiting for help to arrive. Follow the safety advice offered by your breakdown provider.

Know your location

In a recent survey, almost a fifth (19%)** of older drivers intend to use their cars to holiday with their partners this year with more than a quarter (27%)* of the same age group relying on a trusty atlas to plan their route. In contrast, 68% of drivers in the 18-24 age group preferred to use a route planner.

Sean Sidley says: “If your car breaks down when temperatures are high, it’s even more important than usual that we get to you as quickly as we can. The quickest way for our members to report a breakdown is through the AA breakdown app. – Along with other benefits like the AA Route Planner and discounts when visiting the UK’s top attractions, reporting a breakdown through the app will help to get one of our five-star patrols to you sooner. Importantly, given that most people* fill their cars with fuel before a long trip, and concerns around fuel prices – the AA app will help to find the cheapest fuel nearest to you.

“Knowing your exaction location is vital to us, so downloading the what3words app (w3w) and reporting your unique w3w location can help us to reach you faster. For instance, if your location was reported as /// our breakdown location system would know instantly that you were located at Worthy Farm, Glastonbury, and could lead our patrol to within 3m2 of your actual location. If the people who are with you also have the w3w words app, you could use it to quickly locate them at a summer festival or the beach – leaving more time to have fun!

Protect children and pets

On a sunny 27°C day, the inside temperature of a car could reach an oven-like 60°C so it’s important to keep your keys in your pocket if you are placing children or pets into your car. In July alone, the AA has attended an average of nearly two cases per day where children or pets had been accidentally locked in cars – along with the keys, including two dogs and a child locked in vehicles during the extreme heat and record temperatures on Monday and Tuesday.

Freshening up your car for the trip

In addition to having your car checked over by your garage, a long trip can feel better from the start if your car is nice and clean. Our recent survey revealed only a third (35%)* clean the outside of their car with around the same number (37%) cleaned the inside before setting off.

Clearing your car of clutter can help to reduce fuel consumption by reducing vehicle weight and can also reunite you with some items that you may have thought were long gone – such as your once favourite CD’s.

Younger drivers (18-24) said they were twice as likely (36%)* than the average driver (17%) to set up their in-car entertainment before heading off on a long road trip, with only a tenth* of older drivers likely to do the same.

The busiest routes for the summer getaway are likely to be those leading to ports and coastal resorts. The AA advises drivers, wherever they’re heading this summer to check their route before they leave and to check local radio stations and travel bulletins for updates. Break up the journey by teaching younger passengers some old-school games like ‘I-spy’ or ‘sports car spotting’. A modern twist on this could be ‘green number plate spotting’ where the green slip on the end of a number depicts a fully electric vehicle.