The RAC has reported record breakdowns in a single day this week amid freezing temperatures and widespread snow. The breakdown recovery organisation says it dealt with around 12,000 breakdowns on Monday, December 11, as temperatures plummeted across the country and heavy snowfall was seen in some areas.

It’s the highest number of callouts the RAC has ever had to deal with during a single day, eclipsing even the breakdowns seen during the ‘Beast from the East’ in 2018. The RAC has put the record down to the sustained cold snap that has lasted for several days across the UK, as well as the number of drivers struggling to maintain their vehicles amid a cost of living crisis.

As a result, the organisation has urged drivers to take care while driving or abandon their plans if necessary. The RAC’s breakdown spokesperson, Rod Dennis, also advised motorists to carry an “emergency winter pack” containing warm clothing, a hot drink and sturdy footwear.

Winter car breakdown with mother and child by side of the road

“Monday was officially our busiest day for breakdowns on record, with around 12,000 drivers needing help,” said Dennis. “That’s the equivalent of eight [breakdowns] every minute of the day. Even our busiest day during the infamous Beast from the East in 2018 didn’t see as many people breaking down.

“We believe two key ingredients have combined to create the worst-ever winter breakdown cocktail – a sustained period of cold weather with an absence of widespread snow that would otherwise keep people indoors, and a big rise in the number of drivers who can’t afford to maintain their vehicles as well as they’d like to due to the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. Today remains an incredibly demanding day for our patrols, with the rail strikes likely to force yet more people onto the roads.

“Hazardous road conditions are continuing this week following another major refreeze overnight. Those who have to use more rural roads that haven’t been gritted will need to exercise great care, delay or even abandon their plans. Before setting out, allow some more time to de-ice and de-mist your vehicle thoroughly. We urge drivers who have to make essential journeys to leave extra space behind the vehicle in front, reduce their speeds to give plenty of time to stop.

“Anyone still wondering if it’s worthwhile carrying an emergency winter pack with them should imagine how it must have felt for drivers stuck on the M25 for eight hours yesterday. Carrying warm clothing layers – including a waterproof jacket – as well as a blanket, sturdy footwear, a flask of hot drink and power bank to keep phones charged are all extremely important.”

Traffic jam caused by heavy snowfall