THE NATION may be in lockdown but some people still need to use their cars. Whether to buy essential groceries, to care for others or for work, including to deliver essential supplies. Those commuting or working via car or van are mostly key workers, going to play their part in getting us through the Covid-19 crisis. It’s more vital than ever that their cars keep working, so it’s reassuring to know that the nation’s breakdown services are still available.
While MOTs have been suspended for the time being, cars must be kept roadworthy so many garages remain operational for essential repairs and car maintenance stores such as Halfords are still open, though with special measures for social distancing, for example.
And the AA and RAC breakdown services tell us they are still providing roadside assistance as normal, to ensure vehicles are kept moving. However, their patrols will be following government advice on distancing as far as is practicable and using personal protective equipment as necessary.
In addition, customers are being asked to inform patrols whether or not they are showing symptoms for Covid-19, or are self-isolating. The AA says that they will come out to a breakdown “under most circumstances”. The RAC points out that recovery of a vehicle that cannot be fixed at the roadside may not be immediately possible, if distancing cannot be maintained. It will, however, arrange for recovery as soon as possible.
Both the AA and RAC will continue to answer most home callouts as well, again adhering to distancing guidelines. Response times aren’t expected to suffer due to the reduction in traffic volumes — the AA estimates as much as 50% fewer cars on the roads means there are fewer breakdowns happening.
In fact, the AA told Driving.co.uk that it may be able to respond “more quickly than normal” as a result of the reduction in callouts.
Likewise, neither service is expecting staff shortages to cause problems due to the reduced demand. A statement from the RAC said it has “invoked our business continuity plans to ensure we can still deliver service.”
The AA is advising customers to book callouts via its app or website if possible, to ease pressure on call centres. It already had a significant number of home-based teleworkers but is making efforts to ensure more can do so.
Supporting the emergency services
Even under normal circumstances, the AA and RAC provide assistance for emergency service and delivery vehicles, work that is now more vital ever.
The AA announced today that it has partnered with London Ambulance Service to provide additional support to help keep clinicians on the road, responding to Londoners in need during the coronavirus epidemic.
The breakdown company says 41 of its patrols have been sent to 12 London Ambulance Service workshops, working alongside the Ambulance Service’s owned skilled mechanics to will provide immediate technical support for its fleet of more than 500 ambulances and 70 fast response cars.
The partnership includes 24-hour breakdown and incident management services, such as roadside assistance and vehicle recovery for London Ambulance Service vehicles.