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AA urging members to download what3words on what is predicted to be the worst day for breakdowns

Image credit: what3words

With it being the darkest time of year, and the recent extreme weather warnings from the Met Office, including chances of flooding due to heavy rain, windy conditions, and potential frost, ice and snow, the emergency services and the AA are urging members of the public to prepare for long drives by downloading the free what3words app. 


According to the AA, today is forecasted as the worst day for breakdowns this winter. Following the winter solstice on 22 December – the shortest day of the year with less than 8h of sunlight – the AA is also anticipating 23 December to be the busiest on the roads this winter. 

Surges in traffic impose a higher risk of breakdowns and accidents and the what3words research indicates that over a third (39%) of UK drivers claim they would not feel comfortable describing their location to roadside assistance or emergency services in the event of a breakdown. Recent data from the AA confirms this: 40% of people struggle to describe their surroundings when calling for help. 


what3words enables drivers to precisely communicate their whereabouts so assistance can be sent quickly and efficiently. Since last year, the AA has seen a 168% increase in members using what3words to report the exact location of where they’ve broken down. 


Even though there are more cars on the road at this time of year, driving can be daunting for many. In fact, 1 in 3 (34%) of UK adults state that they do not feel comfortable driving in the dark winter months. 40% of them say it’s due to a lack of street lighting, and over half blame the icy and snowy roads (53%), and oncoming headlights (55%). 1 in 4 (26%) also worry about their vehicle breaking down, and 1 in 5 (20%) are concerned about getting stranded in an unfamiliar location. However, research shows that despite their worries, nearly half (48%) of UK adults do not check the weather before heading out on a long drive, and nearly 1 in 5 (18%) will embark on a drive regardless of the weather warnings. 

Edmund King, President of the AA, said: “Breaking down in an unfamiliar location can be a daunting experience at any time, even more so if travelling to visit family and friends at Christmas. what3words helps drivers and our contact centre staff to identify an exact breakdown location. By working together, The AA and what3words are using the latest technology to provide drivers with even more peace of mind. Using three everyday words is a smart way to get you back on the road.”


Nick Powell, AA Patrol of the year, commented: “Our five-star patrols are used to seeing AA members in all kinds of situations in some very unusual locations. Whether our members are helping Santa to deliver gifts in a busy town, or retreating to a country hideaway for Christmas, using what3words helps us to get to our members faster.”


Helen Smith, Dispatch Team Leader at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service said: “We get called to many road traffic collisions when driving conditions are difficult due to bad weather so we would urge motorists to stick to the speed limits and adjust their driving according to the conditions. We would also encourage everyone to download the what3words app so they are prepared in the unfortunate event of coming across, or being involved in, an accident. When we receive a 999 call it’s vital that we can identify the location quickly so we can send help where it is needed, fast.”


The AA accepts what3words addresses, allowing members to easily share the precise location of where they’ve broken down with their service provider over the phone. what3words is also used by 85% of the UK’s emergency services - police, fire and ambulance - and has become an integral part of the emergency toolkit, saving dispatchers and responders precious time and resources in an emergency.


The what3words app is free to download on iOS and Android, and via the online map at


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