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Exclusive: number of breakdowns reaches five-year high

Hugo Griffiths 2019-07-29 16:40

Highways England records 224,225 breakdowns in 2018/19 financial year – up a fifth in two years; rise comes as average age of cars increases

The number of vehicles breaking down on the UK’s motorway and major-road network reached a five-year high in the previous financial year, with Highways England recording 224,225 breakdowns in 2018/19, up from 189,256 in 2014/15.

Breakdowns were up a fifth in the last two years and increased 14.8 per cent in 2018/19 compared to 2017/18, figures released to Auto Express following a freedom of information request shows.

Best breakdown cover

The surge in recorded breakdowns comes as the average age of cars in the UK has increased from 7.8 years in 2015 to 8.2 in 2018, and is up from 6.8 years in 2003. Traffic volumes have remained broadly stable over recent years, increasing just 0.2 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017, indicating the breakdown increases are due to ageing vehicles, rather than larger volumes of traffic.

Year

Number of breakdowns

2014/15

189,256

2015/16

187,913

2016/17

186,319

2017/18

195,292

2018/19

224,225

Highways England is responsible for 4,300 miles of the country’s motorways and strategic main roads. While the organisation’s network makes up just 2 per cent of England’s roads, these roads carry a third of the country’s traffic.

Friday remains the busiest day of the week for breakdowns, with 16 per cent of breakdowns recorded on Fridays in 2019/18. Sundays, unsurprisingly, see the fewest breakdowns, at 13.46% in the last FY. This trend has remained stable over the last five years.

Last year’s summer getaway saw July and August become the busiest months for breakdowns, with 21,759 and 21,00 recorded respectively in those months in 2018/19. That bucks the previous year’s trend, when more cars broke down in March on Highways England’s roads than in any other month.

The motorways with the biggest number of breakdowns are, unsurprisingly, the busiest roads by traffic volume, with the M1 witnessing 14.3 per cent of all breakdowns in the last financial year. Highways England’s 15 busiest roads were witness to 81 per cent of all recorded breakdowns last year.

Highway Name

FY 14-15

FY 15-16

FY 16-17

FY 17-18

FY 18-19

Grand Total

M1

26,648

25,738

26,476

28,380

32,152

139,394

M25

23,823

24,369

24,130

24,818

27,941

125,081

M6

23,510

23,374

23,895

24,645

29,428

124,852

M5

14,893

13,312

13,591

14,187

15,420

71,403

M62

11,501

11,020

10,761

11,686

13,332

58,300

M4

10,640

10,496

10,050

10,862

12,462

54,510

M40

7,225

7,326

7,140

7,687

9,692

39,070

A1M

6,489

6,534

6,508

7,310

8,545

35,386

M60

5,448

5,920

6,109

6,302

6,379

30,158

M3

5,053

6,151

5,073

5,744

7,033

29,054

M42

4,698

4,427

4,160

4,441

4,457

22,183

M11

3,700

3,861

3,737

3,707

4,268

19,273

A1

3,630

4,134

4,025

3,755

3,187

18,731

M20

3,282

3,091

3,016

2,982

4,244

16,615

M56

2,805

2,755

2,670

2,749

3,421

14,400

Grand Total

153,345

152,508

151,341

159,255

181,961

798,410

Highways England highlighted that the breakdown figures relate only to incidents the organisation was involved in or had awareness of. The agency also said that “almost half of all breakdowns are caused by simple mechanical problems which could be avoided with simple checks and nearly a quarter are caused by tyre problems.” Highways England advises drivers to check their tyres, screenwash and oil levels before setting out on long or significant journeys, and also ensuring all lights are working as they should. The agency also stressed the importance of drivers ensuring they have enough fuel in their vehicles to complete their journeys

Have you noticed a rise in breakdowns recently? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…

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