From icy roads to freezing fog, winter driving can be treacherous. Unpredictable weather conditions can catch motorists off guard, as the elements wreak havoc and increase the chances of an accident on the roads.
According to the Department for Transport, 25,160 people were either killed or seriously injured in the year ending September 2016, up by 6% from the previous year.
Here at Emerald Law, we deal with hundreds of claims for personal injury and vehicle damage arising from accidents on the road every year. We’ve put together a list of our top tips to help you stay safe during cold spells.
- Perform some basic checks on your vehicle before you set out. Ensure your tyres are properly inflated, fluids are topped up (especially windscreen wash, anti-freeze and oil), and that your lights are brakes are working well.
- Keep updated on the weather forecasts. If you can, delay your journey until the worse of the weather has passed.
- Keep a ‘survival’ kit in your car: A warm blanket, additional clothes, snacks, water and charged mobile phone.
The big freeze
- According to Road Safety Charity Brake, stopping distances can increase tenfold on ice, so ensure you substantially increase the space between your car and the vehicle in front.
- Drive as smoothly as possible and avoid harsh breaking, accelerating or steering. Avoid breaking on an icy bend as the force will continue to pull you outwards and the wheels can struggle to grip causing your vehicle to spin.
- To brake in ice and snow without locking your wheels, drop into a low gear sooner than normal, allow your speed to drop and gently apply pressure to your brakes.
- Don’t use cruise-control on any slippery surface
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- Make sure your car’s exhaust pipe isn’t blocked with ice, snow or mud. This could lead to deadly carbon monoxide gas leaking into the passenger compartment when the engine is running.
- Plan routes that stick to main roads that are more likely to be gritted and cleared.
- If you get caught in severe weather snow drift, stay with your vehicle for shelter
- If you can’t postpone a trip, make sure you let people know what time your expected time of arrival is so they can raise the alarm if you get into difficulties.
- Brake recommends that drivers leave four seconds between their vehicle and the vehicle in front in wet weather.
- In areas of surface water after heavy rain, avoid aquaplaning by checking you have the correct tyre pressure and tyre tread depth. If this does happen reduce your speed and ease off the accelerator and brakes until your speed drops sufficiently for the car tyres to make contact with the road again.
Low winter sun
- Ensure the inside and outside of your windscreen is clean and free of grease so your visibility isn’t further reduced
- Keep a pair of sunglasses in your car
- Keep your speed slow
- Use dipped headlights, de-misters and window wipers. Switch on your fog lights if necessary
- Increase the distance between you and the car in front
If you’ve been involved in a road traffic accident, our team of road traffic solicitors at Emerald Law are here to help. From helping you with repairs and a replacement vehicle to ensuring you get the compensation you deserve, contact us today by clicking here or by calling 0333 323 9252.