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January 13th 2016

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Adapting driving behaviour is key to lessening risk on the roads during cold weather snap

Kent Pattinson

Kent Pattinson

Senior Solicitor, Personal Injury

Adapting driving behaviour is key to lessening risk on the roads during cold weather snap

Plunging temperatures – perhaps as low as -15C - and several inches of snow are being forecast across parts of the UK for the coming days, and are expected to cause chaos on the roads.

Plunging temperatures – perhaps as low as -15C – and several inches of snow are being forecast across parts of the UK for the coming days, and are expected to cause chaos on the roads.

Yet, despite this big change in climate and conditions, which has widely reported over the past week, how many of us will be prepared, and perhaps more importantly, change the way we drive?

As experts in handling road accident compensation claims across the UK, the period between October and February is always busy for our team at Hudgell Solicitors.

Less hours of daylight, combined with wet and icy roads, are often highlighted as the reason for the rise in accidents.

However, it is our experience that poor standards of driving are equally to blame, as those behind the wheel fail to adapt their behaviour to meet the tougher demands of the conditions.

We have been fortunate to have a mild start to winter in the UK this year, but that in itself can lead to complacency behind the wheel.

Poor driving may not always result in a collision in the summer, as slamming on the brakes may get you out of a sticky situation.

In icy conditions however, it takes 10 times as long to stop a vehicle, a fact seven in 10 drivers admitted to not knowing when questioned in a recent survey.

Put into content, that means that on a fine day, it will take you 23 metres to stop when driving about 30mph. In icy conditions, it could take up to 230 metres, the length of two-full size football pitches.

Worryingly, in the same survey, one in 10 drivers admitted to believing that leaving a space just twice as long as normal to the car ahead would be suffice.

With the cold snap now upon us, the Met Office has urged people to prepare for “very difficult travelling conditions”, but how many of us can truly say we have?

  • Does your car have the necessary equipment to de-ice fully?
  • Do your tyres have sufficient grip to operate effectively on slippery road surfaces?
  • Do you set off earlier to allow for slower traffic?
  • Do you allow enough time for your windscreen to clear before setting off in the rush to get to work?
  • And do you know how far you should be behind the car in front?

Gary Rae, campaigns and communications director for the road safety charity Brake, says slowing down and keeping your distance is key to staying safe in difficult conditions.

Remembering just those two small bits of advice could prevent you or your loved ones being involved in an accident in the coming weeks.

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