Avoiding breakdowns

Thursday 17th May 2018

Traffic officers work around the clock to help people who get into difficulty. One has taken to YouTube to share her expertise as motorists get set to travel.

In a series of videos, Siobhan Wares uses her expertise to help motorists heading off on their travels get their vehicles ready for the road in a bid to cut the number of breakdowns.

And motorists taking to the road over the May bank holiday are being urged to have a look at their vehicle before setting off.

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.

Meanwhile, around 22 motorists break down each day because they run out of fuel.

Highways England produced five short instructional videos featuring Siobhan explaining how to check tyre pressure, tyre tread, oil and water levels and lights to help prevent needless breakdowns and cut the unnecessary delays they cause.

Siobhan, from West Sussex, a South East-based traffic officer patrolling the M25 and other major routes, appears in each of the videos and warned breakdowns can lead to more serious incidents.

The 48-year-old mother-of-three said:

We deal with lots of breakdowns, often caused by people running out of fuel or their engine seizing up, but if you carry out the basic checks you’re not just avoiding inconvenience, you’re keeping yourself and others safe.

If you breakdown and you have family with you, your passengers as well as other road users are being put at risk.

Siobhan joined Highways England’s traffic officer service nine years ago as an operator in the South East Regional Control Centre, before becoming an on-road traffic officer four years ago.

A motorist breaking down on the M25 can end up completely blocking the motorway. It’s not rocket science; check your fuel, tyres, oil and water.

The videos cover:

  • checking tyres: prior to setting off on a long/significant journey, check your tyre pressure and the condition of your tyres, including the spare. Look out for cuts or wear and make sure the tyres have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, which is the legal limit.
  • checking engine oil: use your dipstick to check oil before any long journey, and top up if needed. Take your car back to the garage if you’re topping up more than usual.
  • checking water: to ensure you have good visibility, always keep your screen wash topped up so you can clear debris or dirt off your windscreen.
  • checking lights: if your indicators, hazard lights, headlights, fog lights, reverse lights or brake lights are not functioning properly, you are putting yourself and your family at risk. In addition, light malfunctions can be a reason for your vehicle to fail its MoT.

Motorists are also urged to check fuel: before setting out, check your fuel levels and make sure you have enough to get to your destination.

To help motorists, Highways England is also removing some 237 miles of roadworks by 6am on Friday 25 May 2018 meaning more than 98 per cent of the motorway and A-road network managed by Highways England, will be roadworks-free. The roadworks will not be put back in place until 00:01 Tuesday 29 May 2018.

For more detailed information on how to carry out your vehicle checks, visit the Think! website.

Those wishing to find out more about driving on smart motorways can head online to our Smart Motorways page for further information.

More information can be found on our website or by calling our information line (0300 123 5000) who can keep you up to date with conditions on the roads.


Highways England

Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v3.0.

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