The combination of staycation holidaymakers, more hot weather and the ‘pingdemic’ could create a perfect storm for vehicle breakdowns over the coming weeks, according to one motoring assistance organisation. ARAG, which provides legal and breakdown assistance through insurance companies and brokers, is highlighting the extreme pressures already being put on roadside rescue and recovery services and warning motorists to take additional precautions before hitting the road this summer.
While the number of new Covid-19 cases in the UK has declined steadily since its recent peak in mid-July, the number of workers forced to isolate after being ‘pinged’ by the government’s Test and Trace app, has impacted breakdown operators in a similar way to other sectors, such as hospitality and retail.
At the same time, the number of holidaymakers staying in the UK and using roads for either day-trips or longer breaks to popular tourist areas, like Cornwall and the Lake District has soared. The number of breakdowns reported to ARAG’s claims handlers in the week immediately before restrictions were lifted (w/c July 12th) was 40% higher than in 2019.
The challenges have been exacerbated by our new driving habits since the start of the pandemic, which have made the historic data used for sophisticated modelling that providers use to predict demand and plan operations less relevant.
ARAG has also warned that exceptionally high demand for hire cars and hotel rooms in the UK, may also impact motorists breaking down over the next few weeks.
As well as the usual vehicle checks such as oil, tyres, coolant and wipers/screen-wash that drivers should always make before heading out on a long journey, ARAG is strongly advising them to carry some key items, in case of breakdown or long delays in traffic:
- Plenty of drinking water
- In-car mobile charger or power bank
- High-visibility vests or jackets
- Shade – such as an umbrella
- Sun cream
- First aid kit and any essential medications
Some vehicles may be more vulnerable to breaking down if they have not been used much since the start of the pandemic or if they are stuck in traffic in hot weather.
“We’ve taken measures to ensure the service of our motor breakdown operation,” comments Head of Claims at ARAG, Chris Millward, “But all drivers need to be prepared for a breakdown, especially on particularly busy days and in hot weather.
“There are only so many recovery vehicles in the UK and the number of operators isolating has reduced capacity for some providers. This could leave some unfortunate motorists waiting a long-time for recovery or roadside repair, particularly if they don’t have a motor breakdown policy and have to arrange a callout themselves.
“We’ve done a lot of work to ensure that ARAG continues to deliver an outstanding service to our motor breakdown policyholders over the coming weeks. Some providers are likely to be stretched though, and drivers would be wise to make sure they are well-equipped and prepared before embarking on long journeys.”