The May Day Bank Holiday is forecast to be the hottest on record. And millions of Brits will be travelling across the country in search of a slice of early summer.

Widespread disruption on the railways and in airport terminals will compound the situation on the roads, making them even busier and potentially more dangerous.

Before you set out on any long car journey, it’s good practice to complete a series of ‘pre-flight’ checks.

A few simple checks will give you the best chance of arriving at your destination safely, without car trouble and in the most fuel-efficient way possible.

Here’s our list of simple checks


  • Make sure you keep your tank topped up to at least a quarter-full.


  • You should always check your oil level before a big car journey.


  • Make sure your legal tread depth is above the legal minimum of 1.6mm. Ideally, you should replace tyres when the tread depth gets below 3mm.
  • Make sure tyres are inflated to the level recommended in your handbook. Remember that you may need to increase the pressure when carrying a heavy load.


  • Check coolant level and keep your windscreen washer fluid topped up.


  • Check that wiper blades are working properly and fully clearing the windscreen.


  • Make sure all lights are working and don’t need replacing.


  • Plan your journey well with plenty of rest breaks. Stock up on food and drink in case you get stuck in a serious traffic jam.
  • Make sure there’s a copy of your vehicle’s breakdown insurance policy in the glove box, just in case there’s a problem.

Highways England has launched a new driver safety campaign encouraging drivers to complete ‘pre-flight’ checks before they drive.

They suggest that you should always check your tyres, fuel and oil.

What to do if you breakdown on a motorway

If your car feels like it is going to breakdown, you should try to leave the motorway at the nearest junction to check it.

If you can’t exit the motorway, put your hazards on and move to the safest place you can get to. If there’s no hard shoulder or refuge area, try to get as close as possible to the nearside (left-hand) verge.

If you can, exit the vehicle safely via the left-hand door and wait behind the safety barrier.

Contact your breakdown provider and Highways England on your mobile phone or on an emergency telephone.

If you can’t safely exit your car then you should stay in your vehicle with your seat belt on and dial ‘999’ if you have access to a mobile phone.

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