A new survey, released at the beginning of January by Brake, the road safety charity, has shown that many drivers are still not prepared and still not considering the risks that come with winter weather, especially ice and snow. The new research was carried out on behalf of Brake and Direct Line and found that 71% of all drivers questioned did not know how much longer it would take their vehicle to stop in icy conditions. This could mean that a huge percentage of drivers are putting themselves and other road users at risk by underestimating this distance.
The colder weather has been coming for a while and snow and ice and have been forecast for the coming weeks so it is essential drivers are aware of all the factors that come into play in colder weather and are prepared to react accordingly. This new survey found the 66% of drivers also believe that others do not leave enough space to stop appropriately and 54% believe that others drive too quickly in poor weather conditions. It also found that 22% of all drivers fail to check the gap between their car and the car in front and 21% admit to not leaving a large enough gap, which raises the risk of a serious crash.
Even confident drivers need to be careful when conditions are poor and consider that the vehicle needs additional time to stop safely. In wet weather stopping distances more than double and it is also important to be aware of reduced visibility which sometimes occurs with spray and also rain from other vehicles. When the weather is icy or snowy the stopping distance can be as much as 10 times greater and even if you think roads have been effectively treated it is important to drive slowly and carefully in case the need to break suddenly occurs.
Clearing the snow and gritting the roads is the responsibility of the local highway authority but it isn’t possible to treat all roads in the UK due to lack of resources and Brake asserted that around 40% of our roads are gritted and therefore drivers can never assume a road has been treated and should exercise caution throughout the colder months.
Brake recommend their ABC of Winter Driving: Avoid, Be Prepared and Careful and Cautious Driving and with this mantra in mind all drivers should be able to drive safely and do all you can to avoid the risks that make driving in dangerous and poor conditions even more hazardous.