August 21, 2017
40% of breakdowns could be avoided, say Somerset highways bosses

Somerset County Council’s Road Safety team and Highways England are urging drivers to use simple checks to help them reach their destination safely this summer.

Highways England traffic officers say 40% of breakdowns could possibly have been avoided if the drivers had carried out a few simple vehicle checks before starting their journey.

A roadside breakdown is not just a minor annoyance that prevents travellers from reaching their destination on time; vehicle faults could lead to them being involved in a collision, and can also put lives in danger while waiting for assistance at the side of the road.

Drivers can help ensure they reach their journey’s end safely by doing a quick FLOWERS check before setting off:

F (Fuel): Make sure you have enough for your journey. In 2015 traffic officers had to deal with 7000 cases of vehicles running out of fuel.

L (Lights): Clean all the lights and ensure they are working properly. If your lights aren’t working correctly, other drivers won’t know what manoeuvres you are planning on making and your visibility will be severely restricted at night or in bad weather.

O (Oil): Check the oil level. The correct level of oil prevents your vehicle’s engine from seizing up so don’t wait until you see the oil pressure light come on before topping up.

W (Water): Check the coolant level and top up the windscreen washer fluid. It’s important to keep your windscreen as clean and free from debris as possible to ensure you have good visibility and can clearly see other road users.

E (Electrics): Problems with the battery are one of the most common reasons for a breakdown so ensure yours is in good working order.

R (Rubber): Check tyres to ensure they have the correct pressures, tread depths and for signs of wear and tear. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm but we recommend getting tyres changed at a minimum tread depth of 3mm.

S (Self): Ask yourself: ‘Am I fit to drive?’ Illness, fatigue, alcohol, illegal drugs and legal medications can all affect your ability to drive safely.

Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: "These simple vehicle checks will not only help to ensure you reach your destination without incident but also help to keep both you and your loved ones safe."

If you do break down:

· Pull your vehicle off the road
· Switch your hazards on and side lights as well if visibility is poor.
· Wear a hi-vis jacket and put a warning triangle at least 50m behind your vehicle to alert other traffic.
· Do not stay in your car if it could be hit by other traffic.

If you break down on the motorway:

· Pull on to the hard shoulder as far to the left as possible.
· Turn your wheels to the left to avoid your vehicle rolling back on to the carriageway.
· Put your hazards lights on immediately.
· Get out of the vehicle from a door on the left-hand side of the vehicle and stand behind the safety barrier (it is advised to leave pets in the car as there is a risk they may become spooked and run into traffic).
· Stand to the rear of the car, so if it is hit by another vehicle you aren’t in line.
· Call for assistance on the emergency phones; these free phones will connect you directly to the Police and Highways England who will know exactly where you are and send assistance to you. There are way markers every 100m which will give your location and the direction of the nearest phone.

Highways England Chief Executive, Jim O’Sullivan, added: "I want all drivers to arrive at their destinations safely during the summer holidays. We are urging motorists to make sure they are ready to go on their journeys by checking their fuel, tyres and oil. With a few simple checks everyone will be safer."

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