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Potholed roads put overloaded cars at risk of breakdown this Easter

Press release: 08/04/2011

Thousands of drivers will be compromising passenger safety by overloading their cars this Easter, according to new research from breakdown service Britannia Rescue.

With around 6.7 million [2] Brits set to drive to UK holiday destinations this Easter and 17.7 million [3] this summer, Britannia Rescue predicts a surge in breakdowns and accidents as one in ten pack their cars full to the brim for every eventuality. The problem is exacerbated this year by the state of the UK's roads, which are currently peppered with potholes and surface damage as a result of the harsh winter. Overloaded cars are more prone to breakdown when driving on poorly maintained roads as their suspension is compromised by the load.

The research reveals that over eight million [4] drivers have overloaded [5] their car in the last five years, yet a fifth admit they never think about weight when packing focusing instead on getting every last piece of luggage on board. In our quest to create a 'home from home' holiday experience, nearly one in ten (9%) Brits planning a UK holiday this year will load the car with everything they can fit in. The majority (64%) intend to take food and drink with them, 40% will pack entertainment equipment such as laptops, video games and MP3 players and some will even take 'the kitchen sink' - with 16% saying they will pack their own cooking equipment.

The risks of 'car cramming' are clear with those driving overloaded cars admitting it causes a number of problems. One in seven (16%) of drivers say have driven while their rearview mirror was obscured, while one in twenty (6%) say they found it harder to stop and a fifth (18%) admit asking passengers to keep a look out for them when carrying heavy loads. Worryingly, 180,000 motorists have broken down as a result of overloading their car.

Going on holiday isn't the only time when UK motorists are tempted to overload their cars however, as just under a tenth (7%) has overloaded the car collecting a child from university, as many will do this Easter. The bank holiday weekend is also a peak time for home improvements and two fifths (41%) admit to overloading the car while carrying new furniture and 38% have overloaded the car while moving home or helping someone else move home. Over a third (35%) say they have driven with car doors, windows, or boot open to accommodate a large load.

Seven in ten motorists (71%) claim they've not overloaded their car (in the last five years), yet nearly eight in ten people (78%) admit they don't know the maximum weight their car can carry. When carrying heavy items six in ten (61%) of motorists never bother to adjust the tyre pressure and 69% fail to keep their parcel shelf clear.

Britannia Rescue is advising motorists planning to carry heavy loads to think carefully about the risks associated with overloading a car to avoid the possibility of breakdown, accidents and even legal penalties. Frequent overloading, particularly when combined with this winter's road damage, can significantly increase the risk of breakdown. Springs, wheel bearings, tyres and suspension systems are strained, braking effectiveness is reduced, steering is harder to control and there is an increased risk of the engine overheating.

Peter Horton, Britannia Rescue managing director, said: "With Easter upon us and the excitement of summer holiday season fast approaching, it's completely understandable that motorists may not be considering the dangers caused by overloading their car. But it's vital to put safety first, especially when UK roads are in such a state of disrepair. To minimise the risk of breakdown and accidents, our advice is to take a little extra time before the journey starts to be sure your load is safe, secure, not blocking your view and within your car's maximum permitted weight."

General information on Britannia Rescue can be found at


Britannia Rescue

Britannia Rescue is the UK's fourth largest road rescue organisation and is part of the LV= group of companies. Britannia Rescue‘s network has over 3,000 breakdown professionals nationwide and average response time is under 40 minutes. The company has been awarded a Which? Best Buy and offers breakdown assistance throughout the UK and Europe. The company has just been named top provider of road rescue in the Auto Express Driver Power Survey for 2009.


LV= is a registered trademark of Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society Limited (LVFS) and a trading style of the Liverpool Victoria group of companies.

LV= employs around 4,500 people, serves over four million customers and members, and manages around £8.0bn (as at 31 December 2010) on their behalf, via LV= Asset Management (LVAM). We are also the UK's largest friendly society and a leading mutual financial services

LVFS is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority, register number 110035. LVFS is a member of the ABI, the AFM and ILAG. Registered address: County Gates, Bournemouth BH1 2NF.

About the research

All research unless otherwise specified was conducted by ICM. ICM interviewed a random sample of 2,005 adults in Great Britain aged 18+ from its online panel between 23 and 24 March 2011. 1,441 of those surveyed were drivers. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further Information at

  1. 2% of those who have overloaded their cars have broken down in the past five years, equating to 180,000 people.

  2. 14% of adults are planning a UK holiday travelling by car this Easter, equating to 6.6. million people (Populations data sourced from ONS)

  3. 37% of adults are planning a UK holiday travelling by car this summer, equating to 17.7 million people (Populations data sourced from ONS)

  4. 24% of UK adults have overloaded their car in the past five years, equating to 8.26 million people (Populations data sourced from ONS)

  5. 'Overloaded' is defined as carrying more than the car is supposed to carry