RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: “While many people have clearly heeded the advice not to drive in the worse affected areas the RAC dealt with 9,700 breakdowns yesterday which is an unprecedented number for a Wednesday at the end of February. This was 36% more than we had forecast even after we had factored in the extreme weather conditions and 50% busier than it should have been for the time of year.
“By 11am on Thursday the RAC had already helped 3,500 stricken motorists – a record 80% more than it would do normally on the first day of March.
“Patrols and recovery drivers saw a three-fold % increase in vehicles being ditched compared to the last seven days and a 162% rise in road traffic accidents. There was a 100% increase in vehicles failing to start due to batteries and starting motors not coping with the sub-zero conditions.
“Our breakdown data has also highlighted problems with diesel apparently becoming clogged due to the extreme cold with a 244% increase in fuel filter issues on diesel cars. This is very worrying considering winter grade diesel contains an additive to prevent this from happening in very low temperatures.
“Today our patrols are out in force helping our members to keep moving in these difficult conditions. As Storm Emma moves into the South and South West wind speeds are increasing significantly and we are seeing heavy snowfall move in across Cornwall and into Devon making many roads impassable. We expect the conditions will rapidly worsen across the South West, South Wales and West Midlands.
“We strongly urge drivers to avoid any non-essential journeys and if they must travel the should proceed with great caution. The best advice is to drive to the conditions by keeping your speed down, leaving plenty of space between your car and the vehicle in front – up to 10 times normal – and avoid braking and accelerating sharply.”
For more advice on preparing for and driving in the cold, plus tips on avoiding a breakdown in the first place, visit the RAC website.