A survey of 2,000 UK car owners reveals many are hopelessly unprepared for a winter breakdown. That’s despite 62 percent having broken down at some point.
The research by NFU Mutual, published by the RAC, found that drivers are more likely to carry an umbrella (50 percent) in their car, than basic safety equipment. They’re also far more likely to keep chewing gum and mints on board (30 percent) than a reflective triangle (26 percent), jump leads (23 percent) or a high-vis jacket (24 percent).
Just one in five drivers (21 percent) keep a blanket and warm clothes in their car. And sunglasses are more commonly kept (52 percent) than a breakdown service number (43 percent).
More than a third of drivers don’t have a spare tyre on board, while 50 percent don’t know how to change a tyre. Yet wheel changes are the most common cause of breakdowns.
Remember your winter FORCES
The RAC has a one-stop acronym for fending off winter breakdowns: FORCES. It stands for Fuel, Oil, Rubber, Coolant, Electrics (especially lights) and Screenwash.
Make sure that all of the above are at the correct level (fluids), are in good condition (tyres, electrics), or are working correctly (electrics).
What you should carry in winter
NFU Mutual has a list of winter driving essentials. It recommends you carry the below items, preferably in a waterproof bag:
- Warm blankets, clothes and waterproofs
- Long-lasting food and water
- Red reflective warning triangles
- High-visibility jackets
- Jump leads
- A spare tyre and jack
- Road atlas
- Breakdown number on paper
- In-car charger
- First aid kit
- Ice scraper/de-icing kit
“While brollies might be among the essentials for daily British life, don’t forget the safety fundamentals such as a torch, blanket and a spare tyre to prepare for a breakdown,” said Aleks Corr of NFU Mutual.
“Keeping basic safety equipment in your car could spell the difference between a minor inconvenience and a traumatically freezing and potentially hazardous family event.
“While technology can be a real lifeline, don’t completely rely on it. Poor signal or a low battery may mean it lets you down when you need it most. Always keep an in-car charger handy, but also equip yourself with analogue alternatives including a road atlas and your breakdown service number written on a piece of paper. Familiarise yourself with safety tips and what to do in an incident, such as how to park safely or how to find an SOS phone on the motorway.”