Response Times From Your Breakdown Cover
Although modern vehicles are more reliable with better technology, breakdowns are still a common occurrence and the technology often makes it more difficult to repair the car yourself! A flat battery, burst tyres, running out of fuel and the slightly more vague “electrical fault” are all frequent reasons for finding yourself stranded at the roadside calling your recovery company.
When choosing a recovery company, one of the criteria to consider is the response time. Each company will have large print on their websites showing their average response times, and insisting that they are the most reliable, with coverage of the whole UK, and show advertisements of vans speeding through the night to rescue stranded motorists. Average response times, however, are slightly misleading. Many motorists break down within two miles of their home, meaning short response times, which bring the average response time down. This obviously means that breaking down in other areas will have a longer wait for recovery.
Breaking down in a town or city can be annoying enough, but breaking down on one of the UK’s rural roads miles from anywhere, or on a motorway, can be even more frustrating. The rise of “staycations” has led to a greater number of people using their holiday time to get away from urban life and explore the more isolated areas of the country, far away from help if your car suddenly breaks down.
The first thing to do when your car has an issue when driving is to get the car as close to the side of the road as you can, put on your hazard lights, leave the car and phone for help. Many drivers think it is safe to stay in the vehicle but the Highway Code advises you leave the vehicle and stand in a safe place. This is sound advice! If you are in a stationary vehicle that isn’t seen by another driver and you get hit at speed it could be life threatening, so it is advisable to stand outside of the vehicle whilst you wait for help.
Many cars carry a hazard warning triangle as part of an emergency kit and it is important to put this out to warn other motorists, especially on rural roads, which are narrow with blind corners.
Being stranded in the middle of nowhere, on a country lane, or one of the many B-roads around the country, can mean that help may be some time. The recovery company will have to send a driver there, which may take up to several hours even though many cars are now fitted with GPS or phone Apps supplied by your breakdown company, which can assist the recovery service to locate you, even if you have no idea where you are.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the bigger breakdown cover companies with their own fleet of vehicles will offer faster recovery in rural areas. The fleet will be stationed in or around the major areas so could take a while to arrive. In some cases the smaller companies with partnerships with local recovery companies can arrive at your rural location just as quickly, if not faster, due to their recovery partner being closer to your location so don’t write off the smaller companies in these situations. For instance, GEM and Britannia Rescue were voted number 1 and number 2 respectively in the Auto Express best breakdown cover 2014 survey, ahead of the major breakdown companies, so going directly with the ‘brands’ isn’t always the best option.
If you are alone, waiting for the recovery service can be either an extremely boring ordeal or a welcome break from the rush of modern life depending on your outlook to the circumstances. Current motoring advice is to be prepared when going on long journeys, so here is a breakdown checklist for those long journeys:
- You should be furnished with a flask of tea, coffee or other hot drink of your choice
- Snacks or sandwiches
- A blanket
- A good book, or watching films or listening to music on your mobile phone will help to while away the time waiting for the recovery vehicle.
- Water is always essential
- An umbrella in case you need to wait outside the car in the rain
- Warm clothes, for the same reason.
- Florescent jacket. Not all that trendy but country roads tend to have limited lighting so make sure you are visible
- An emergency triangle for your car so the vehicle can be seen as soon as possible.
The UK has some of the most beautiful countryside in the world, so admiring the scenery can pass some time. If you have small children travelling with you, or other passengers, passing the time can be a very different experience. Games such as “I-spy”, as can going for short walks to explore the countryside, as long as you keep the car in sight or someone stays behind and waits for the recovery vehicle. Remember the phone or iPad batter will only last so long so if it is still daylight outside you’re better off using that time to explore than waste a much needed phone battery.
A breakdown on the motorway is another matter however. The M40 has been named as one of the worst places to break down in the world. Heavy traffic and a lack of access roads can result in a long wait for help to arrive. If for any reason you experience car trouble when driving on the motorway it is essential to pull over onto the hard shoulder, switch off the engine, get out the vehicle from the passenger side and wait behind the crash barriers to call the breakdown services.
Deciding on which recovery company to join is a very important decision, as, although each company seems to offer the same services, the level of cover provided can vary. If you regularly travel along rural routes or are planning more driving holidays it is advisable to check you have the best level of breakdown cover to assist you, if needed, in such situations.