Plan ahead to avoid unnecessary delays on your holiday – that is the message from the IAM who advise that drivers could avoid many breakdowns by carrying out a few simple checks before setting off.
The Highways Agency who say that they had over 36,500 breakdowns in live lanes on motorways and major “A” roads reported to them during 2012.
By carrying out a POWDER check, drivers and riders can help ensure that their vehicle is roadworthy with a quick visual examination, before they begin their journey.
Petrol – Make sure that you have enough for the journey and plan refuelling stops.
Oil – This should be checked when the engine is cold (check your handbook) and the vehicle is parked on a level surface. Also include hydraulic fluids for the clutch, brake, and power steering systems in your inspection. One in five UK drivers only checks their engine oil levels when an instrument panel warning sign is activated.
Water – The levels in the radiator and windscreen washer bottles should be checked while parked on a level surface.
Damage – Check the bodywork, wheels and fixtures, including the mirrors and windows. Make sure your windows are clean inside and out.
Electrics – Check all lights, indicators and hazard warning lights are in good working order and clean. Also test the horn.
Rubber – Check the tyre pressures and tread depth, and look for damage to the tyres and wheels. Check the wiper blades for damage.
IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “Although motorways are our safest roads, they still see too many crashes and breakdowns. The hard shoulder isn’t the place to spend a holiday. Making regular checks can also save you a lot of money in the long run – it’s best to deal with minor problems and repairs as they happen, as they can get very expensive if left to build up over time.”
Between the beginning of April and the end of June 2013, the Highways Agency had 2010 incidents reported to them where drivers had run out of fuel on motorways - an average of 670 a month.
John McTaggart, Head of On-Road for the Highways Agency traffic officer service said: “The number of people breaking down simply because they have run out of fuel is alarming. It’s not only hazardous to the driver and passengers, but to other road users as well, especially if the vehicle has to stop in a live lane.
“We want drivers to be aware of the risks and also to encourage them to check their fuel level before they set off. It’s important that if you are travelling over long distances, that you continually monitor your fuel level.”
Dan McGoldrick from oil company Mobil, said: “Failure to keep oil levels topped up will lead to increased engine wear, fuel usage and diminished performance.”
The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving, motorcycling and cycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving, motorcycling and cycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.