Motorists are being warned to prepare for a ‘Frantic Friday’ this week due to millions of drivers hitting the road and a predicted increase in breakdowns.
Department for Transport figures show August is the busiest month on British roads and Friday is the busiest day of the week for traffic.
More cars also break down during journeys in August than in any other month and Fridays are the most common day for drivers and their passengers to be rescued.
But even though more than one fifth of drivers worry about breaking down and being stranded, research from Swinton Insurance found 57 per cent take less than 20 minutes to prepare for a long journey.
The survey also found a quarter of British drivers would spend less than 10 minutes preparing for a long drive of over two hours, with male drivers the worst culprits.
It also emerged only three in five drivers with insurance feel confident they know what level of breakdown cover they have, falling to less than a third among 18-24-year-olds (30 per cent).
Mike McGrail, car insurance expert at Swinton Insurance, said: “A car breakdown is always a pain to have to deal with, but if you’re on a staycation it could really ruin your holiday.
“No one wants to waste time waiting for help at the side of the road, so making a few simple checks before you set off to make sure your car is ready for a long trip is a really good idea.
“That way you can spend your staycation relaxing on the beach, not stewing by the side of the motorway.
“That aside, if the worst was to happen, make sure you’re confident in what your car insurance covers you for and how to make a claim if you need to.
“And if you’re able to add on breakdown cover, this will help provide even more peace of mind when you’re on the road.”
But there are some simple checks you can make yourself before you set off on your staycation that can help keep you safe on the road and prepared for a breakdown should the worst happen.
Rebecca Ashton, head of policy and research at the UK’s biggest independent road safety charity IAM RoadSmart, said: “Basic checks on your vehicle not only save you a lot of heartache as you head off for your well-earned break, but also make sure you, your passengers and other road users are as safe as possible.
“Having prepared your car for the summer getaway, it would be great if you also stayed in the habit when you get back and keep on doing checks weekly.
“It’s a great way to help make sure you and your passengers are safe on the road whatever the time of year.”
Seven essential tips for getting your car ready for a long drive:
• Make sure you have enough fuel in your car to make your journey – or at least enough to get to a petrol station.
• Check your levels: Make sure you have enough engine oil, washer fluid and engine coolant.
• Under pressure: Check the pressure in your tyres using a pressure gauge if you have one – or take your car to a petrol station and use an air compressor.
The correct pressure will be printed on a label on the opening of the driver’s door, inside the fuel filler cap or in your user manual. Often front tyres need higher pressure than rear ones.
• Wheely important: Check your car has a spare wheel and that the tyre isn’t flat. Many car manufacturers now supply a repair kit (usually including tyre sealant and a tyre-inflator pack) instead of a spare wheel, so make sure they are in working order.
• Testing, testing: Check your indicators, brake lights, side lights, headlights and fog lights, and replace any bulbs that have gone.
• Going under: Look under the car for any fluid leaks. A leak could mean a serious problem, so you should consult a mechanic.
• Before you leave the house: Remember to charge your phone, take a charger with you and also make sure you’ve saved your breakdown provider’s details in case you need them. It’s also worth taking food and water in case you need to wait a while for your breakdown provider.
• If you breakdown on the motorway: Pull over to the hard shoulder if you’re able to, put your hazard warning lights on and, if it’s safe to do so, exit your car using the left-hand doors.
If you’re on a smart motorway head to the SOS phone, walking behind the barrier, and use it to contact the regional traffic centre who will be able to divert the traffic around you while you wait for your breakdown provider to arrive.