A survey of 1,500 British motorists has revealed just how unprepared many are for winter driving.

The research, conducted by rural insurance specialists NFU Mutual, found that British motorists were more likely to carry an umbrella in their car than they were basic safety equipment.

With 62 per cent of those surveyed saying they had broken down at least once in their lifetime, that correlates to 33.6 million people across the UK that have been stranded by a vehicle breakdown.

While 78 per cent of respondents did have breakdown cover, the research found that just 20 per cent carried a warm clothing or a warm blanket in their car – something that safety organisations emphasise as an essential over the winter months.

Many were also likely far more likely to have chewing gum in their car than they were to have high visibility clothing or red reflective warning triangles.

Aleks Corr, motor insurance specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “It’s great that the majority of drivers have a rescue service in place. But when you scratch under the surface, drivers are unprepared for the call-out itself, which is a particular risk in the dark, cold weather and even more so if breaking down on isolated and unlit rural roads.

“While brollies might be among the essentials for daily British life, don’t forget the safety fundamentals such as a torch, blanket and a spare tyre to prepare for a breakdown. Keeping basic safety equipment in your car could spell the difference between a minor inconvenience and a traumatically freezing and potentially hazardous family event.”