The cost of summer driving

Most of us know that driving during the summer holidays comes with a certain amount of stress.

However, research from AXA Insurance has shown that financial stress can also play a huge part, as money-conscious motorists are failing to plan their getaways properly which could end up costing them hundreds of unexpected pounds.

When it comes to planning a holiday we all know to leave as much time as possible to arrive at our destination – whether it’s a hotel, day out or a flight to another country.  Most people take steps to avoid running late, such as travelling at different times of the day to avoid traffic (72%) or taking a longer route to avoid busy roads (50%).

This is not surprising when the average person believes it would cost them £268 if they miss a flight, £175 if they miss a ferry and £108 if they miss check in at a hotel. On a smaller scale, people think that it would cost them £119 if they miss a day out with the family and £113 if they miss work.

Unfortunately, even though 47% of people believe driving long distance during the summer months is stressful, there are still those who don’t plan ahead. In fact, one in five admit to not having or not knowing whether they have breakdown cover even though many worry about common breakdown causes such as tyre punctures (30%), or the car not starting at home (10%) or away (20%).

What’s more, when asked about the cost of breakdown recovery, a quarter of respondents admitted they didn’t know how much it would cost to tow a vehicle 50 miles back to their home out of hours if they didn’t have cover, when in reality it could cost between £225 and £250. This increases to between £350-£375 if a person is 100 miles away from home and around £500 if they are 150 miles away. It’s important to also keep in mind that recovery mileage is 45% higher in busy summer months compared to quieter times of the year.

Gareth Howell, managing director, AXA Direct, said, ‘Most of us save a considerable amount of money to go on holiday during the summer months, which is why unexpected costs can be extremely stressful and ruin what should be an enjoyable time away. Planning ahead doesn’t just mean leaving earlier, but also knowing you have help there should the worst happen such as breaking down on the way to your destination. Summer can be an extremely busy time for breakdowns, and with people anxious to make sure they don’t miss their flights or a day out with the family, having the right cover in place is a great way to prevent unwanted stress.’

Along with not considering how the cost of arriving late or breaking down can quickly add up, many drivers also forget that they may need to keep aside a little extra for fuel when planning their summer getaway. This is because as part of AXA’s survey, respondents said that they believe they waste on average almost £10 (£9.59) in fuel by waiting an hour in summer traffic.

The roads are also extremely busy between June and August, with the average motorist planning on driving 740 miles. Considering this, the amount of money the nation could waste waiting in traffic adds up to a massive £261m – and that’s if everyone spends just one hour in traffic instead of two or three.

Depending on where you live, how much money you think you waste in fuel spending an hour in traffic differs. For example, Londoners believe it would cost them £11.86, followed by £10.09 in the West Midlands and £10.04 in Wales. On the other hand, those in the north east think it would only cost them £7.16 – 34% less than the national average.