Drivers urged to pack essential items when travelling this winter

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Poor weather and heavy traffic due to rail strikes are factors that are set to make car journeys longer and more frustrating this winter. And a new survey has revealed how the vast majority of motorists are not prepared if they encounter any serious difficulty because they haven’t got some key emergency items in their vehicles.

The study, carried out by online repairs and maintenance marketplace ClickMechanic, revealed that only seven percent have a snow shovel handy in case they get caught out in a blizzard.

Meanwhile, just 17 percent said they carry spare clothes and less than a quarter (24 percent) have a breakdown kit, including a warning triangle and hi-vis jacket.

Andrew Jervis, the co-founder of ClickMechanic, said: “Whether it’s seeing family, Christmas shopping trips, or getting away for the festive holidays, Britain’s roads are very busy during this time of year.

“Even if you’re only driving from A to B, situations can occur that, without the resources to hand, can go from bad to worse.

“Most cars would fit these items in the boot and you’ll definitely be glad you have them if the weather closes in or you suffer a breakdown.”

Last year 120 lorry drivers were stranded on the M62 for more than eight freezing cold hours when Storm Arwen caused heavy snowfall on the Lancashire-Yorkshire border.

But the ClickMechanic survey revealed that only 14 percent of motorists keep emergency snacks in their vehicle in case they get stuck.

Mr Jervis added: “The British weather can be unpredictable, especially in winter. Snow might not be falling when you set off but a substantial covering can come about in no time.

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“If you break down in wintry conditions, having dry clothes to change into or more layers to put on can be imperative to your safety.

“Similarly, extra blankets are important for your passengers who might be sitting in a cold car or roadside while you await rescue.

“You also don’t know how long you could be stranded for if you have a breakdown or accident.

“Having drinks and food is important to keep up your energy levels and to make sure you are fighting fit and ready to drive again when you can.”

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There was some better news, as 43 percent of the motorists surveyed said they carried with them a backup mobile phone charger.

More than half (52 percent) revealed they had a first aid kit on board, while 42 percent carry jump leads in case their battery goes flat.

The most popular answer was a spare tyre or tyre repair kit, with 84 percent.

Mr Jervis added: “This does leave 16 percent of drivers without the means to change or repair a flat or damaged tyre.

“We’d obviously advise all motorists to be ready for this situation to happen to avoid getting stranded and running up an expensive roadside repair or recovery bill.”

RAC Breakdown’s Rod Dennis added: “Our advice is to reduce speed and leave extra space behind the vehicle in front and drive in as high a gear as possible to minimise the chances of wheels spinning and brake gently to avoid skidding.

“It’s also vital that all tyres have plenty of tread and that vehicles are topped up with a good quality screenwash that protects down to well below zero so windscreens can always be kept clear.”

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