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AA Ireland attends 250 lockdown breakdowns a day

Breakdown organisation says Ireland’s essential travellers and vulnerable are reporting incidents.

The AA Ireland has released figures that show it is still attending up to 250 motor-vehicle breakdowns per day - despite the fact much of the country remains under lockdown conditions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Priority groups being helped

With the breakdown assistance service recently announcing that it would extend free assistance to elderly members of the public, as well as healthcare staff, for the duration of the COVID-19 shutdown, it might appear startling (and a little alarming) that it has to attend hundreds of breakdowns a day. But the AA maintains that many of these callouts are from the priority groups it has vowed to assist.

Conor Faughnan, the AA director of Consumer Affairs, said: "Like many other businesses, we have looked to how we can assist those most at risk during the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, while also assisting our own members who may experience a breakdown while undertaking essential trips to a shop or to deliver items to someone who is cocooning. At all times, we are prioritising the safety of our staff and following HSE advice, but while breakdown numbers have dropped in recent days the callouts we are attending to now are largely of the utmost importance. We have poured all our resources into ensuring we can attend to vulnerable groups who may be reliant on their car at this time and to healthcare workers who are already doing so much for us all at this time."

 He added: "We have, of course, had to scale back our resources, but there are still a limited number of staff in our offices who can assist elderly people who may be less comfortable using an app to report a breakdown, as well as supporting our existing customers in the healthcare sector or at-risk groups who may need to renew an insurance policy with us. We are asking our other customers or anyone else looking to purchase an AA product to do so online to assist us in keeping our phone lines clear for these priority groups."

Slight decrease under lockdown conditions

On Saturday, March 28 - the first day of the new movement restrictions applying across Ireland - the AA attended 137 breakdown callouts, with another 108 incidents reported to the organisation on the Sunday. By Monday, that daily number was up to 250 callouts, which is slightly below the daily average of 258 for March, but significantly below the daily average of 314 in February. In contrast, on the final weekend before the new restrictions (Saturday, March 21-Monday, March 23), the AA attended 212 breakdowns on the Saturday, 149 on the Sunday and 284 on the Monday.

Mr Faughnan explained: "From what our patrols are seeing, most people are adhering to government advice and the majority of the breakdowns we are attending to would be classed as essential travel. At the end of the day, the last thing that any nurse, doctor or frontline healthcare worker needs at this point in time is to walk out at the end of their work day and find their only way of getting home struggling to start due to a battery fault or stuck in place due to a puncture."

Published on March 31, 2020
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