There were more vehicle breakdowns on motorways and major routes last year than there have been for half a decade, new figures from Highways England reveal.
An investigation by Auto Express revealed 224,225 recorded breakdowns between April 2018 and 2019, up from 189,256 four years earlier in 2014 to 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 show.
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.
Friday remains the busiest day of the week for breakdowns, with 16 per cent of breakdowns recorded on Fridays in 2019/18.
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.”
Recovery operator campaign for red lights
Meanwhile, campaigners from the roadside recovery industry have claimed the figures on motorway breakdowns have significantly bolstered the case for increased protections for roadside rescue and recovery operators – including the right to use red warning beacons.
Commenting on the data, spokesperson for Safer Roadside Rescue and Recovery, Richard Goddard said: “The admission by Highways England that breakdowns are increasing is vindication for recovery operators who have been anecdotally claiming they need more protection to cope with increased breakdown frequency.
“More breakdowns means more recovery operators.
“The government should take the immediate and cost-free step of permitting recovery operators to use red flashing warning beacons.”
Roads Minister, Michael Ellis MP announced last month that the Department for Transport (DfT) would be reviewing the evidence base for the benefits of recovery operators being permitted to use red flashing warning beacons.
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