Research suggests drivers in many areas could struggle to find mobile phone coverage in an emergency

5,540 stretches of road in the UK could leave motorists stranded without mobile coverage to call for help

 

Back in the day when we suffered a car breakdown we had to look for the nearest telephone box to call for help, or if we felt brave enough we might knock on a house close by to ask if it’s possible to use their telephone. Nowadays we simply use our smartphone to call a breakdown provider but is it really that easy?

Research carried out by the RAC Foundation suggests not, as 5,540 stretches of road in the UK could leave motorists stranded without mobile phone coverage and it doesn’t seem to matter what network provider you have, as this problem affects them all.

This figure represents 2% of the length of the UK’s road network, whilst another 44,368 miles of road (18%) only have partial mobile coverage.

Have we really taken away thousands of telephone boxes from the side of the road because we rely on our mobiles that much? Research suggests this might have been a little premature.

A total of 5,540 stretches of road in the UK could leave motorists stranded without mobile coverage to call for help

Research suggests drivers in many areas could struggle to find mobile phone coverage in an emergency. © Copyright Chris Downer and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

It may come as no surprise that it’s rural parts of the country that fare the worst, as 910 miles of road within the Highland local authority area have no voice coverage at all.

If your vehicle breaks down in Argyll & Bute, Cumbria, Dumfries & Galloway or Powys, be prepared for a walk to search for a signal.

Overall, 90 local authority areas have one or more stretches of road in which it’s impossible to gain a voice signal and therefore call for assistance.

However, a stranded motorist can make an emergency phone call via another network if there’s isn’t providing any coverage.

“The good news is that mobile coverage has improved a great deal across our road network. On our motorways, which carry around a fifth of all traffic, every mile should now have voice and basic data coverage plus a 4G signal for all but a couple of miles,” said Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, adding: “This analysis shows that there is still work to be done to make constant and comprehensive coverage a reality.”

UK local authorities with the most miles of road and no voice coverage:

  • Highland – 910 miles
  • Powys – 411 miles
  • Argyll & Bute – 388 miles
  • Cumbria – 296 miles
  • Dumfries & Galloway – 266 miles
  • North Yorkshire – 219 miles
  • Gwynedd – 213 miles
  • Na h-Eileanan Siar – 207 miles
  • Scottish Borders – 192 miles
  • Devon – 190 miles

 

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