Breaking down by the side of the road is never convenient, and statistics show that around a third of UK drivers worry about it while driving. From dead batteries to overheating engines, there are lots of things that can go wrong behind the wheel — leaving an average of 10,000 people stranded at the roadside every day.
While there’s no denying that breaking down is an absolute pain no matter where or when it happens, there are certain situations in which roadside breakdowns can quickly turn from inconvenient into full on nightmare. Here, we look at some of the world’s worst scenarios and locations to break down in.
Scenario 1: On the way to an important meeting
Whether you’re heading for a job interview, vying for a big promotion at work or meeting with your bank manager to sign those all-important mortgage papers, you don’t want to end up stuck on a grass verge waiting for roadside assistance. With most breakdown services taking around 40 minutes to reach those stranded at the roadside, you’ll almost certainly need to reschedule your appointment — something which could cause a big headache for you and others involved.
Most of us don’t plan for an emergency like this, but a little prep can make it less stressful. Keep Tyreweld in your car so that you can deal with punctures yourself quickly and easily – the temporary repair will last long enough for you to get to your destination and then arrange a professional repair – and make sure you always have the contact details of the person you’re meeting so you can ring them to explain what’s happened.
Scenario 2: On the way to the airport
You’ve waited months to jet off on your holidays, and now the time has finally come to load up the car and head for the airport. But wait — with 50 miles between you and the departure gate, the family car decides to cut out, leaving you and some very upset kids stranded by the roadside as your outbound flight time draws ever nearer.
The journey to the airport has to be one of the most stressful and unlucky times to break down. While it’s easy to reschedule an appointment, the plane will take-off whether you’re on board or not — so it’s critical you get there on time. Always remember to give yourself plenty of time to reach the airport, so you’ve got a safety net in case the worst should happen. It’s also a good idea to invest in breakdown cover that offers onward travel, so you can go off and enjoy your holiday and worry about the car when you get back.
Scenario 3: When the waters break
While soon-to-be mums rest up and prepare themselves for childbirth, expectant dads should be revising the route to the hospital to avoid any hiccups when the big day comes around. But, while the chances are slim that the car will break down en-route to the maternity wing, it could still happen — and what a roadside emergency that would be!
If the absolute worst happens while you’re anxiously weaving your way through traffic on the way to the hospital, it’s better to be prepared. While our list of 30 items everyone should have in their cars won’t really help with delivering a baby, there are a few things in there which could help get you on the move again — from Holts Tyreweld Emergency Puncture Repair Kit to Bradex Easy Start and even an essential toolkit for on the spot repairs.
Scenario 4: In the dark, on a country road — with kids
It doesn’t matter where you’re heading – if you’ve got children in the car you want to get there a quickly and safely as possible.
Breaking down in the middle of nowhere in the dark is a parent’s nightmare – if you can get phone signal to call for help you still don’t know how long you’ll have to wait, and with traffic coming past you in the dark it can be a scary place to be. Your car might not be in a safe place to stay inside it, but getting the family to sit in the dark by the roadside is unappealing as well.
Make sure you have an emergency triangle in your car so that you can warn oncoming vehicles that you’re there – they’ll slow down to pass you which will make you feel safer and a good Samaritan might even stop to help you. Brightly coloured jackets will keep you warm and make you visible, and having a stash of drinks, biscuits and blankets will help you to keep the children happy while you wait for assistance. Carrying a can of Tyreweld in case you get a puncture could also save you a lot of stress.
Scenario 5: In the middle of a storm
On a sunny day when you don’t have any pressing matters to attend to, breaking down at the roadside might not sound all that bad. Break down in the middle of a thunderstorm or other bad weather, however, and it’s a different matter entirely. In fact, according to a recent survey by the AA, 43% of drivers admit to feeling anxious about breaking down in bad weather — placing it among a list of the biggest worries drivers have at the wheel.
The Worst Places to Break Down in the UK
Now we’ve covered some of the most troublesome situations in which to break down, it’s time to look at a handful of the worst places to be left stranded at the roadside in the UK.
While breaking down on the motorway is always horrible, it’s particularly bad on the M40. Why? Long stretches of the 89-mile carriageway lack a hard shoulder, and there are also very few slip roads, meaning that a single broken down vehicle can cause huge tailbacks for other drivers and mean that you could be stuck for ages waiting for someone to rescue you.
The rural area of Gwynedd, North Wales, suffers from such poor mobile phone reception, it was recently voted one of the worst places to break down or have an accident in the UK. According to the RAC, the Welsh county has 172 miles of roads which get no signal whatsoever, leaving drivers in a bit of a jam when their car suddenly gives up the ghost.
Blackwell Tunnel, London
Breaking down on any of central London’s busy streets is enough to give any driver the sweats, but becoming stranded in the Blackwell Tunnel is among the worst places to break down in the capital — albeit, the entire country. At rush hour, the tunnel becomes gridlocked with traffic, and with no hard shoulder or escape lanes to speak off, this has to be one of the most hair-raising places to break down.
At Holts, we develop emergency repair products which can help you get on with your day when a car problem threatens to ruin it. View our range here.