Research shows the same recurring problems have caused vehicle breakdowns during the months of February and March on National Highways’ motorways and A-roads over a three-year period. 

Tyre issues top the table for breakdowns during those months with 5,934 incidents in 2021, 7,095 in 2022 and 7,762 last year. 

Problems with tyres range from punctures, emergency brake damage and driving at speed – which increases the risk of damage and misalignment. Wear and tear is also a factor – if the tread depth is below 1.6mm you cannot legally drive on the roads and must have your tyres replaced. National Highways has tips to check your tyres here

Driving with under inflated tyres (even as little as 10%): 



  • Makes your braking distance longer 
  • Can make your vehicle harder to steer 
  • Uses more fuel 
  • Shortens the lifespan of your tyres 

Loss of power and an empty fuel tank make up the top three reasons why people broke down on motorways and A-roads in England during the same periods between 2022 and 2023. 

The figures are revealed as National Highways launches its spring TRIP campaign to encourage drivers to plan their journey in advance, including carrying out all necessary vehicle checks as well as factoring in rest stops before they set of on any long or significant journey.  

The acronym TRIP stands for: Top-up – fuel, water and oil; Rest – every two hours; Inspect – tyres and lights and Prepare – plan your journey ahead and check the traffic and weather forecasts. 

The spring awareness campaign is running from this week (Feb19) to April 7, covering the Easter holiday period and encouraging motorists not to be complacent on the roads in the spring following winter weather conditions. The campaign aims to reach all road users but with a specific focus on families and young drivers who are looking at an Easter getaway. 

Paul Beecher, National Network Manager at National Highways said: “TRIP is a long-term road safety campaign which helps drivers to prepare for long journeys especially during holiday seasons. 

“The last thing any of us want is to break down with our family in the car with all the expense and worry that can cause, when a few checks before a big trip can save that hassle. 

“Our advice is simple; a few basic checks before you set-off can make the world of difference. The acronym TRIP is just about trying to drive that message home.” 

Figures also showed ‘loss of power’ was responsible for 2,230 breakdowns between February and March in 2021, 2,920 during the same period in 2022 and 3,052 last year.  


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An empty fuel tank was responsible for 918 breakdowns between February and March in 2021, 1,149 during the same period in 2022 and 1,001 breakdowns last year. 

Engine failure and clutch or gear problems make up the top five causes of breakdowns during the same periods.  

Other causes of breakdowns between February and March over the last three years included electrics, batteries, overheating and brakes. 

National Highways is responsible for operating, maintaining and improving 4,500 miles of England’s motorways and major A-roads, linking towns, cities, ports and airports, and aims to get people to where they need to be on time – safely and reliably.