Vehicle maintenance danger revealed as drivers flock back to the roads

News from Brake
Read full report here
With COVID-19 putting MOT’s on hold, safety campaigners are urging drivers to perform basic safety checks ahead of getting behind the wheel, as a new report highlights dangerous gaps in vehicle maintenance in the UK.
The report, by road safety charity Brake and breakdown provider Green Flag, based on a survey of more than 2,000 UK drivers, reveals that more than 14 million license holders are checking the safety of their vehicle just once a year or less, including a shocking one in ten of all UK drivers who admit that they never perform vehicle safety checks.
The charity and breakdown provider are teaming up to highlight that regularly checking and maintaining a vehicle is now more vital than ever, with MOTs exempted due to coronavirus. Brake and Green Flag are asking all drivers to perform regular ‘walk-round’ checks of their vehicle, once a week and before any long journeys.
Weekly ‘walk-round’ checks
  • Tyre tread wear. Change tyres well before tread gets to the legal minimum (1.6mm in the UK). Brake recommends replacing at 3mm, as tyres can be dangerous in wet conditions with less than this. People who drive with tyres below the legal limit could face three penalty points and a £2,500 fine.
  • Tyre pressure. Buy a hand-held tyre pressure gauge and check the pressure weekly, when the tyres are cold. The correct pressure will be written in a vehicle’s handbook. If you do not have a pressure gauge, visit your local garage.
  • General tyre condition. Check for cracks, bulges or bubbles on the sides of tyres. These are signs that the tyre is damaged and at risk of blowing out. If you see any of these, get the tyre checked by a professional, and replaced if necessary.
  • Lights are working. Check lights are clean and bulbs aren’t blown (reflect against a wall, or ask someone to help).
  • Oil, water and fluids. Check oil and water levels, and other fluids such as power steering, windscreen washer and brake fluid, are well above minimum levels.
  • Wiper blades. Check they are in full working order and replace if worn.
  • Wheel fixings. Check wheels and wheel fixings for defects, including loose nuts.
The report into vehicle maintenance also reveals that a fifth of all drivers have knowingly driven a vehicle that was not roadworthy, increasing to more than a third of 18-34 year olds. Brake and Green Flag are reminding all drivers that if there is any suspicion that there is a problem with the vehicle, do not drive and consult a professional.
Government test data further highlights the extent of poor vehicle maintenance and the risk it is causing on the roads. There are around 37 million licensed cars and vans on British roads and nearly a third of these vehicles are failing their initial MOT, with more than a fifth having a major defect and one in ten being found to have a dangerous defect. Drivers of vehicles found to have a dangerous defect on the roads are liable for a £2,500 and three penalty points as their vehicle is posing a direct and immediate risk to road safety (or the environment) and is illegal to use.
Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “We want to remind drivers that regular safety checks of your vehicle are vital as even minor defects, like a worn wiper blade, can play a part in a catastrophic crash. Drivers have a responsibility for a vehicle’s safety and this is a responsibility which should not be taken lightly.

“With the coronavirus MOT exemption delaying tests, checking the safety of your vehicle has never been more important. We urge all drivers to perform regular ‘walk-round’ checks of their vehicle, once a week and before any long journeys – it is a couple of minutes which could be the difference between life and death. If you have any suspicion at all that something is not right with your car, do not drive it and consult a professional.”
Commenting, Dean Keeling Managing Director of Green Flag said: “Driving a faulty car is a huge issue. Not only is it likely to be illegal but it is dangerous for you, your passengers and other road users.  Ignoring a vehicle part that needs fixing is likely to make things worse, ending up costing more money in the long run.
“Green Flag understands that drivers have differing degrees of mechanical knowledge when it comes to cars but while it is crucial that you know how to drive a car; it is also your responsibility to maintain it.
“Keeping your vehicle in good working condition as opposed to driving an unroadworthy unsafe car could be the difference between getting to your destination safely or the cause of an avoidable crash and serious injury or worse.”
Notes to editors:
[1] Survey of 2,019 drivers undertaken by independent market research company, Surveygoo, on behalf of Brake and Green Flag. See full report online here -
[2] “More than 14 million UK license holders are checking the safety of their vehicle just once a year or less”. Analysis of government data on license holders and Brake and Green Flag survey results.
Government March 2020 GB license data shows 41,178,424 license holders.

How regularly do you perform safety checks on your vehicles?


Sample Size 2,019

Every time I use it


Once a week


Once a month


About once a year




[3] “A fifth of all drivers admit having knowingly driven a vehicle that was not roadworthy, increasing to nearly 4 in 10 of younger drivers (18-34 year olds)”

Have you ever knowingly driven a car that was not roadworthy?

All ages





20 %





80 %





Overall % of tests

Dangerous defects % of tests

Major defects % of tests

July 2019 – September 2019




About Brake
Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies.
We do this through national campaigns, community education, services for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.
Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.     
About Green Flag
With over 40 years' experience, Green Flag provides customers with breakdown cover 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Customers have access to a network of breakdown operators across the UK and mainland Europe (Euro Plus cover required).
 Green Flag Motoring Assistance is underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
Green Flag and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.
Customers can find out more about Green Flag products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 1557, connecting via the Green Flag Rescue Me Application, or visiting