Motorists urged to make Friday 19 July ‘check your vehicle day’

Highways England is calling on motorists to check their vehicles to help keep traffic flowing

Highways England has teamed up with organisations working with drivers to urge people heading off on the great summer getaway to be prepared and to check their vehicles in advance to avoid breaking down.

The joint call to make Friday 19 July ‘check your vehicle day’ comes as part of Highways England’s ongoing safety campaign about motorway driving.

It advises motorists what to do if they break down and reminds them to follow speed limits, to keep left except when overtaking and not to ignore red X signals above closed lanes.

Highways England’s head of road safety, Richard Leonard, said:

“Breakdowns are still too common. We’d urge motorists to check their vehicles on a regular basis and this week is really important because we know that many schools break up for summer and people are setting off on holidays and getaways.”

Highways says simple checks are a way to make sure the vehicle is roadworthy. Things to consider are:

  • Check tyres: prior to setting off on a long/significant journey, check your tyre pressures are suitable for the load 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
  • Check engine oil: use your dipstick to check oil regularly and before any long journey, and top up if needed. Take your car back to the garage if you’re topping up more than usual
  • Check water: to ensure you have good visibility, always keep your screen wash topped up so you can clear debris or dirt off your windscreen
  • Check 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
  • Check fuel: before setting out, check your fuel levels and make sure you have enough to get to your destination

Highways England has also issued five basic safety tips to follow if your car does break down on a motorway:

  • Get away from the traffic. Exit the motorway or get to an emergency area or hard shoulder and use the free phone provided
  • If that’s not possible, move left onto the verge
  • Get out of the left side of your car and behind the barrier if you can and it is safe to do so
  • Get help – contact your breakdown provider or Highways England on 0300 123 5000
  • If you break down in moving traffic and cannot leave your car, keep your seatbelt and hazard lights on and call 999

July and August are the busiest months for breakdowns on motorways and major A-roads. One breakdown is reported every two minutes during the final weekend in July and first weekend in August.

You can find more advice on the Highways England website, or download a vehicle safety checks leaflet.