The summer holidays are almost here, and driving will play a big part for many. In fact, British holidaymakers planning to drive on holiday this year will cover a whopping 589 miles on average.
However, many are failing to prepare before they hit the road on holiday, according to new research from Enterprise Rent-A-Car among 1,000 UK motorists who plan to drive abroad this summer.
Whether they are planning to drive their own car on holiday (33%) or to drive another vehicle at their destination (60%), many don’t undertake vital checks or make sure they know where all the controls are on the vehicle.
Many using their own cars won’t undertake basic checks
In total, the research showed nearly two million British motorists will be driving abroad in their own car this year, while 1.3m will be driving their own car for a holiday in the UK. However, a quarter of these drivers will not check tyre tread depth (26%), a fifth will not check tyre pressure (19%), more than half will not check brake pads (54%), nearly a third (30%) will not check headlights, and a quarter (24%) will not check screen wash levels. The research found that those in Spain, Germany and France as a whole are twice as likely to conduct vital checks as those from the UK and Ireland.
The research also reveals that many drivers won’t be carrying essential safety equipment in their car. Nearly half (47%) do not have a torch, 32% do not have a jack, 38% do not have a wrench to remove a flat tyre, and 36% do not have a roadworthy spare tyre in the boot. Many also do not have a hi-visibility jacket (57%) or a warning triangle (47%), which are legal requirements in several European countries.
In fact, the research found that less than two-fifths of British holidaymakers (39%) regularly conduct maintenance on their car. Nearly a quarter (23%) admit they have never even opened a car bonnet, while 49% have never changed a tyre.
Not unreasonably, among those who said they do not conduct any regular vehicle maintenance, the main reasons are that modern vehicles are increasingly reliable and have sophisticated on-board technology. Increasingly, motorists rely on their vehicle to tell them if something needs checking (36%) and on the annual MOT (36%). Almost one in five (19%) ‘expect modern cars to work all the time’.
Half of those NOT driving their own cars set off without knowing where the controls are
Meanwhile, those drivers not planning to use their own car when driving on holiday are not taking the time to check the controls before they pull away.
When asked about their experience of using a vehicle which they have not driven before, almost half (45%) say they have been in a situation where they didn’t know how to operate at least one of the controls in the car while they were driving.
The research found that a third (34%) do not check how to operate the lights, 36% say they never check where the indicators are, while nearly half do not check they know how to operate the windscreen wipers or the gears (45% for both).
A fifth (19%) say they have previously been unable to get a car into reverse. Seven per cent have found themselves unable to clean an obstruction from the windscreen while driving, 11% have found themselves unable to clear rain from their windscreen and 12% were unable to demist the windscreen.
On a slightly less serious note, 11% admit they have driven in an unsuitable position because they didn’t know how to adjust the seat, and 16% have listened to music they didn’t like because they couldn’t work the radio.
This is despite the fact that two-thirds (66%) of British holidaymakers admit they find driving abroad stressful for reasons including ‘not knowing local driving rules’ (29%), ‘having to drive on the other side of the road’ (29%), and ‘not understanding road signs’ (21%).
Ben Lawson, Vice President of Rental for Europe, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, says: “Preparation is everything when it comes to driving, whether that is ensuring your car is ready for the road, or checking you know how to operate a car you are unfamiliar with if you are not planning to use your own car. Most people just want to get on with their holiday, but if you’re driving a car for the first time it’s worth taking the time to ensure you know how the controls work.
“If you are renting a vehicle, take a minute to ask the representative to show you how the controls work if anything looks different. We are here to help. And if you are planning to use your own car, it is worth making a few checks before you head off so you don’t end up stranded at the side of the road. All of our cars at Enterprise go through a 25-point safety inspection before they are handed over to the customer for additional peace of mind and a stress-free start to their holiday.”