Among the worst errors business drivers have made are sitting in the car on the hard shoulder and wandering alone on badly-lit back streets, according to AA Business Services. One driver was even found attempting to change a wheel in the fast lane of the M6.
Research by the AA shows that more than half of all motorists breaking down on motorways risk death or serious injury by sticking with their vehicles on the hard shoulder.
One in three stay inside their vehicle and a further 23% get out of their vehicle but remain near it on the hard shoulder.
Roger Williams, head of major fleets and leasing at AA Business Services, said: ‘Company car drivers are among the worst offenders, either because they haven’t been given advice about what to do, or because it isn’t their vehicle and they haven’t considered what to do if they breakdown.
‘Ignoring hard shoulder breakdown advice is without doubt the worst and most dangerous thing company car drivers can do. Staying in your car leaves you at risk of being involved in a collision with passing vehicles but a frightening number of drivers take this gamble.’
The AA recently attended a call-out on the motorway to a businessman sitting in his car on the hard shoulder.
When questioned why he had risked his own life by staying in the vehicle, he revealed that he was wearing an expensive Italian suit that he did not want to get wet.
A spokeswoman for road safety charity Brake added: ‘More than 200 drivers lose their lives on motorway hard shoulders every year and more than one in four men (28%) will attempt to fix their cars on the hard shoulder.’
However, breakdowns in urban areas can be just as dangerous for drivers. Williams explained: ‘Although motorways have always been considered the most risky place to break down, with the increase in certain types of vehicle crime, it could potentially be much more dangerous to break down in an inner-city area, particularly alone in the dark.’
In fact a quarter of all business breakdowns take place in inner city areas, with 27% occurring in the dark.
‘Most fleets give company car drivers a breakdown card but they need to pay more attention to personal safety, and in particular the need for increased awareness and education to make sure drivers understand who to call and what to do in a breakdown situation.’
Servicing vehicles at manufacturers’ recommended intervals could prevent some breakdowns but managers should also request drivers complete vehicle checks such as tyre pressures and oil levels on a weekly basis to minimise the risk of breakdowns.
A spokesman for the RAC said: ‘The most common faults are caused by a lack of maintenance or understanding of the car’s systems.
‘A simple routine like checking tyres for damage and correct pressure, as recommended by the manufacturer, may prevent drivers returning to the vehicle to find a flat tyre or, even worse, experiencing a blow-out on the motorway.’
Advice for drivers – what to do in the event of a breakdown
ON A MOTORWAY OR DUAL CARRIAGEWAY:
IN INNER CITY AREAS AT NIGHT:
(Source: AA Business Services)