Are drivers aware of how to stay safe in winter on UK roads?

Are drivers aware of how to stay safe in winter on UK roads? 5th February 2015

With the last few weeks having seen parts of the UK hit hard by winter weather, and Met Office warnings continuing to tell us that we need to be keeping an eye on conditions as Siberian winds blow through, most people will have been taking extra care on the roads when out and about. 

However, according to a new survey by ITV, although people are driving more carefully, many are still not completely up to scratch when it comes to maintenance and preparing the car for winter. 

In its findings, ITV reports that a third of drivers are not packing essentials for their winter journeys in the form of a basic winter resilience kit. 

On top of this, it said that just under half of all people driving in winter are completely unaware of the correct legal minimum tyre tread depth. 

So what should you be doing to make sure you are staying as safe as possible during the current cold snap?

Winter resilience kit – Your winter resilience kit should come complete with both items that help you prepare the car for the journey and things that will be useful in an emergency. Pack the likes of de-icer and a scraper for your windows to aid vision and a shovel in case you need to dig yourself out. 

You should also always make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone in case you should get stuck and need to call for help, and some food, a blanket, boots and extra warm clothing for any emergencies that might occur. 

Know your tyres – It's far too easy to fit new tyres to your car and then simply forget about them until the next time a problem calls for them to be fixed. However, you need to know that your tyres are adequate to handle any snow and ice in winter weather. 

Check them regularly to make sure there is no damage in the form of cuts or bulges, and ensure they meet the legal requirements for tread depth. The law states 1.6mm, but experts recommend that tyres should always have tread of around 3mm for extra safety. 

Take your time – Never set off without making sure your car is fully prepared for the journey. With people in a hurry to get to work each morning, many will simply decide to drive away without first scraping the windows properly. However, this can cause issues with visibility and leave you at risk not only of having an accident, but also getting three points on your licence for driving in an unsafe manner. 

On the road, you also need to make sure you are taking your time. Leave extra space between yourself and the car in front in case you need to brake sharply, and remember that you won't always be able to see ice before you hit it. Stopping times can be up to ten times longer in winter.

Adjust your driving style – When driving in adverse conditions, you always need to adjust your driving style accordingly. This includes pulling away in second gear with low revs to stop yourself from sliding, braking slowly and gently and always staying 100 per cent alert. 

Posted by Danielle Barge