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Staycation 2021: unreliable & overpacked cars, unfamiliar roads, mystery road signs

ByDave Stopher

Sep 9, 2021

Europcar research[i] reveals driving concerns as Brits head off for their post-Covid Summer staycations

  • Over half of UK motorists don’t trust that their car will be able to make a long journey; London drivers are the most concerned at 73%
  • Driving on new roads or in new locations is the biggest concern for a quarter of motorists this Summer; Scottish drivers are the most worried at 31%
  • More than half of motorists have previously over-packed their car and not been able to see out of rear and side windows; 25-34 year olds were the biggest culprits with 66% admitting to this
  • Legitimate road signs puzzled a number of motorists

With Summer holidays across much of the UK now in full swing, many families will be setting off on staycations. However, new research commissioned by Europcar UK has found that the lack of car use over the last 18 months could be cause for concern for some drivers. There’s also a question mark over whether the family car is ‘fit for purpose’ for the big trip away.

The research found that over half of UK motorists (58%) worry that their car is unreliable and will not be able to make the trip. Despite this, 55% admitted they don’t do basic vehicle checks, such as oil levels or tyre pressure before embarking on a long journey, with a worrying one in ten admitting to never doing this.

Over half of Brits also admitted to being on a car journey where the rear or side windows were obstructed – whilst not illegal if you have side mirrors, it is illegal for your vehicle to be over its recommended weight. 

So, what does make us nervous behind the wheel? For men it’s other drivers (29%) whilst for women it is driving on unfamiliar roads (30%). A similar percentage of men and women agree that driving to a new location is nerve wracking (18% men vs. 16% women).

New destinations mean potentially new road signs, and the Europcar research also shows than Brits need to brush up on their highway code. When faced with genuine road signs many drivers did not believe them to be legitimate, including:

 ‘Vehicles may pass either side to reach same destination’ (39%)
 ‘Soft Verges’ (25%)
 ‘Warning – migratory crossing’ (69%).

“Many families will have forgone foreign travels this summer, instead opting for a holiday in the UK”, explained Evelyn Tourish, Customer Experience Manager, Europcar UK. “But our research reveals many drivers have little faith in the reliability of their car and don’t check simple things like tyre pressure and oil levels.

The last thing a family needs is to breakdown on a busy motorway because their car wasn’t up to the journey. If you doubt the reliability of your car or just want a bit more space to stretch out or accommodate luggage, Europcar provides a range of vehicle types to help the trip go as smoothly as possible.”

Rebecca Ashton, Head of Policy & Research at IAM Roadsmart added: “We firmly believe in education and re-education, to build confidence, improve drivers’ and riders’ skills and promote road safety and whilst it is concerning to read the survey results, they confirm our own findings. We are aware of anxieties leading to lack of confidence, due to an extended absence of road use, and the surge in staycations and day trips planned for this summer.

“We know, through our own research, that drivers sometimes need to ‘top up’ skills. Similarly, keeping up to date with the Highway Code, road signs and avoiding myths is key to safety. We would also encourage all drivers and riders to ensure they themselves along with their vehicles are ‘road worthy’ before setting out as well as taking regular breaks and paying attention to signs of tiredness which affects concentration, observation and response time.”

Key Data Charts

Do you worry that your car will not be able to do long journeys?

What makes you the most nervous about driving this summer?