Press release

Traffic officer drives home message on how to avoid breakdowns

Whether it’s a breakdown, collision or any other emergency on the roads, Highways England traffic officer Siobhan Wares is used to helping drivers during a crisis.

Traffic officer

Now the 47-year-old mother-of-three is using her skills to help motorists heading off on holiday this summer get their vehicles ready for the road in a bid to cut the number of breakdowns.

Almost half of all breakdowns are caused by simple mechanical problems which could be avoided with simple checks and nearly a quarter are caused by tyre problems.

Meanwhile, around 22 motorists broke down each day during July and August last year because they had run out of fuel.

Highways England is producing five short instructional videos on how to check tyre pressure, tyre tread, oil and water levels and lights to help prevent needless breakdowns and cut the unnecessary delays they cause.

Siobhan, from West Sussex, a South East-based traffic officer patrolling the M25 and other major routes, appears in each of the videos. She warned breakdowns can lead to more serious incidents.

She said:

We deal with lots of breakdowns, often caused by people running out of fuel or their engine seizing up, because they haven’t carried out the basic checks.

What you have to think about is if you breakdown you’re not just putting yourself at risk. If you have family with you it’s your passengers as well as other road users too.

Siobhan joined Highways England’s traffic officer service eight years ago as an operator in the South East Regional Control Centre, before becoming an on road traffic officer three years ago.

A motorist breaking down on the M25 can end up completely blocking the motorway,” she said. “We recently had a motorist who told us he was heading for work and noticed a problem with the oil gauge. He thought he’d deal with it later and ended up breaking down on the motorway.

It’s not rocket science; check your fuel, tyres, oil and water.

The videos cover:

  • checking tyres: Prior to setting off on a long/significant journey, check your tyre pressure 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

  • checking engine oil: use your dipstick to check oil before any long journey, and top up if needed. Take your car back to the garage if you’re topping up more than usual

  • checking water: to ensure you have good visibility, always keep your screen wash topped up so you can clear debris or dirt off your windscreen

  • checking 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

Motorists are also urged to:

  • check fuel: Before setting out, check your fuel levels and make sure you have enough to get to your destination.

Highways England Chief Executive, Jim O’Sullivan, said:

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.

For more detailed information on how to carry out your vehicle checks, visit the Think campaign page.

Those wishing to find out more about driving on smart motorways can head online to GOV.UK for further information.

More information can be found on our website or by calling our information line (0300 123 5000) they can keep up to date with conditions on the roads.

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways England customer contact centre on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways England press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

Published 17 July 2017