Breakdowns a major cause of motorway closures in 2014

  • Report findings show the top five reasons for road closures
  • In total there were 443,590 lane closures in 2014
  • IAM believes more needs to be done in educating drivers

Research from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has discovered that more than 40 percent of all motorway and major A-road lane closures in England in 2014 were caused by vehicle breakdowns.

In total there were 443,590 lane closures on motorways and primary A-roads in England last year for 44 reasons defined by Highways England.

Some of the major findings of the report were as follows:

  • 12,759 pedestrians walking on a motorway live-lane or active A-road caused lane closures (three per cent of all incidences) in addition to the 122 unsupervised children.
  • There were also 7,446 cases of a ‘non-legal’ use of the hard shoulder – some two per cent of recorded incidences.
  • Other causes listed were 3,990 animals loose on the network; 2,598 abandoned vehicles and 6,742 shed tyres.
  • 6,288 injury collisions and 29,656 non-injury collisions also caused lane closures.
  • 856 suicides or attempted suicides caused roads to be shut on England’s main routes.
  • There were also 152 cases of objects being thrown onto the roads, and 567 cases of a vehicle driving on the wrong side of the road causing roads to be closed.

Of the 185,457 breakdowns, 40,192 were in a ‘live-lane’ i.e. a lane with other moving traffic around it.

Sarah Sillars, IAM chief executive officer, said: “There are many worrying things that emerge from this information. Firstly, people are putting their own lives at risk and those of others by not maintaining their vehicles properly to the point they break down on our busiest roads.

“While we appreciate that a few breakdowns are unavoidable, such as a tyre blow out, the vast majority can be avoided or dealt with before taking a vehicle onto a key route.

“It also shows people do not treat our key economic arteries with the respect they deserve. Pedestrians, unsupervised children and objects thrown on the road should never be happening. It is clear an education and awareness campaign starting at school age is badly needed.”

She added: “Investment in our roads would also play a big part in reducing some of those sorry statistics - having more than 5,700 pothole incidences causing road closures is not something England can be proud of.”

The other top five reasons for road closures, apart from breakdowns were planned roadworks, assorted obstructions, non-injury accidents and administration (mainly police and VOSA checks).

The numbers of incidents are as follows:

1. Breakdown                                   



2. Planned road works     



3. Obstruction – other                 



4. Road traffic collision – no injury           



5. Administration