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Preparing Your Car for Winter


The winter weather can often present drivers with a number of dangerous road conditions. Snow and ice can push your vehicle to its mechanical limit so it is important to know that it can handle these tough conditions. You should always be prepared; in case you’re faced with a dangerous situation or get held up in lengthy traffic jams.

According to national statistics, breakdowns double in the UK throughout the winter period due to adverse conditions. Research has found that drivers are six times as likely to have a crash, and this number increases when ice and snow are an added hazard. Insurance claims also tend to increase around this time of year as a result of these added dangers.

To make sure you are all set, Hudgell Solicitors have created a guide to help you ensure your car is road-worthy for the colder months.

Inspect your car weekly

Carry out routine checks on your vehicle over the winter period. Adding antifreeze to your engine stops the cooling system from freezing. You can test the effectiveness of your antifreeze by purchasing a tester which costs approximately £5.

Make sure that all lights are working and are clean. Dirt can often prevent a full glow from your vehicle.

Be aware of visibility

Throughout winter visibility can be a big issue for drivers. Weather can mean it’s difficult to see while driving and can also affect your vehicle directly. Icy windscreens can often take a while to de-frost, so you may want to consider placing a material sheet across the front and rear windows of your vehicle. A nylon cover should help prevent frost getting to the glass. Don’t pour boiling water over your windscreen as the difference in temperature can cause the glass to crack.

Use a handheld brush to clear away any excess snow or ice on top of your car that could dislodge and become a danger to other road users. Use a cloth to wipe awkward areas such as wing mirrors and in between your windscreen and bonnet.

The wet weather will mean that you will be frequently using your windscreen wipers. If your wipers are old, then you run the risk of smearing oil and dirt across your windscreen. Fill your washer bottle with a good concentration of antifreeze screen wash to make sure it doesn’t freeze up.

Regularly check your tyres

Research by tyre manufacturer, Continental, found that two-thirds of road users are unaware that winter tyres exist. Their research also revealed that 47% of motorists admit to failing to check their tyres before the winter snap.

Normal tyres can contribute to accidents as the compound used in the material hardens, which cause the tyre to lose grip. Winter tyres are specifically made to perform better under icy conditions; increasing the ability to stop over a much shorter distance.

Check the condition and pressure of your tyres to avoid the risk of skidding. The current legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm in the UK, but you may want to consider increasing this to 3mm over the winter months. This will also have the benefit of increasing your vehicle’s fuel efficiency meaning you’ll pay less at the pumps.

Always carry an emergency kit

This kit should contain survival essentials in case of a breakdown in blizzard-like conditions. If you happen to breakdown in the countryside, you could wait a long time before your vehicle is rescued, so always carry essentials in your boot. Your emergency kit should include the following:

  • Food and water
  • Spade
  • Warning triangle
  • Oil
  • Torch
  • Warm clothes
  • Ice scraper
  • Portable mobile phone charger
  • Puncture repair kit
  • First aid kit
  • Blanket

Be Alert

Motorists must be alert whilst driving through poor weather. Failing to do so can result in the driver putting themselves and others around them at risk. You should drive your vehicle at a steady speed if ice and snow is visible and use low gears to maintain traction. Use higher gears to avoid wheel spin and uphill climbs.

To understand more about UK driving habits, we recently conducted a survey into winter road safety and how well motorists understood the Highway Code. The findings can be found below:

Hudgell (002)

The findings highlight that understanding the Highway Code and inspecting your vehicle throughout the winter can help to prevent a serious accident. Not all motorists have experience of driving in icy conditions so you should prepare your car effectively but most importantly, remain alert and patient at all times.


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28/01/2019 1 Comment

Distracted driving through the eyes of a breakdown patrol officer

distracted driving

We should all know that since December 2003 driving whilst using a mobile phone is illegal, not to mention incredibly dangerous, yet recent research reveals that more than 500,000 motorists still pick up their phone when behind the wheel.

Using a mobile phone, whether it be hand-held or hands-free whilst driving holds a significant distraction to the driver and almost certainly increases the risks of crashing or causing an accident. Reports now suggest that using a hand-held device is even more dangerous than drink or drugs where at least 1 in 20 drivers under the age of 30 have been caught flouting the law.

Drivers who use a mobile phone are less aware of what’s happening on the road around them and are up to four times more likely to cause an accident. Even careful drivers can be distracted by a call or text – and a split-second lapse in concentration could result in sometimes very serious road traffic accidents.

We have teamed up with David Hartford, a Breakdown patrol officer, to demonstrate just how prevalent mobile phone use remains whilst behind the wheel of a car. He shares his first hand insight into some of the shocking things he sees on a daily basis whilst out on patrol in the UK and provides some road safety tips to help you stay safe.

Mobile phones – The Law

Using your mobile phone whilst driving has been illegal since December 2003. Below is a list of laws you may not be aware of:

  • It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile when driving.
  • This includes using your mobile phone to follow a map, read a text or check social media. This applies even if you’re stopped at traffic lights or queuing in traffic.
  • You can only use a handheld phone if you are safely parked or need to call 999 or 112 in an emergency and it’s unsafe or impractical to stop.
  • If you’re caught using a handheld phone while driving, you’ll get 3 penalty points on your licence and a fine of £100. Points on your licence will result in higher insurance costs.
  • If you get just 6 points in the first two years after passing your test, you will lose your licence.
  • You may use a hands-free phone while driving but you can still be prosecuted if you’re not in proper control of your vehicle. The penalties are the same as being caught using a handheld phone.
  • The penalties for driving carelessly or dangerously when using a handheld or hands-free phone can include disqualification, a large fine and up to two years imprisonment.
  • *Source: Think! Road Safety – http://think.direct.gov.uk/

Over the years, successful awareness campaigns highlighting the dangers of drink-driving have contributed to its reduction leading to a stigma which increasingly deems it socially unacceptable.

This now has to happen for mobile use. Statistics that show such campaigns can assist to reduce driver reaction times by 35 per cent.

With the number of phone-related crashes rising and dozens of deaths being caused every year, national road safety charity Brake have launched a campaign to introduce new laws banning the use of hands-free phone systems in vehicles.

We support the notion of introducing tougher consequences for mobile use behind the wheel – whether it be texting, calling, filming or surfing social media – it has to become as socially unacceptable as driving after a drink, and should be subject to the stronger punishments in the courts.

Jane Woodcock of Hudgell Solicitors Said: “With drivers continuing to flout the laws around mobile phone use, putting people at risk, the only way to eradicate this danger would be for mobile phones to have to be placed in a closed space, such as the glove compartment when a car is being driven, and for hands-free calls to also be stopped.

“It may seem drastic action, but maybe drastic action is what is needed to get the message through and improve concentration levels behind the wheel.”

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17/06/2016 No Comments

Bank Holiday break? Drivers must be prepared and patient to keep families safe on UK’s jammed roads

Motorway traffic jam

By Matt Tuff, senior solicitor and road traffic accident claims specialist at Hudgell Solicitors

The Bank Holiday weekend getaway rush makes life notoriously difficult on the UK’s roads, and if you are heading away for a short break over the next few days, preparation and patience are most likely to be the key words to remember.

The AA has been forecasting a busier period over the next five days than this time last year, with more than 11 million drivers expected to take a road trip over the bank holiday weekend, with the greatest number travelling today – ironically in a bid to beat the usual Good Friday rush.

It’s a time when people are planning to get away from the stress of day to day life and sample the sights and sounds of elsewhere, but the Bank Holiday rush on the roads brings together a potentially deadly combination of distractions.

Drivers must remain calm in Bank Holiday traffic to avoid road accidents

Crammed roads and slow progress can lead to frustration and anger behind the wheel, emotions which were recently highlighted in research as amongst the most likely to cause drivers to be involved in an accident.

And with tensions possibly mounting in many cars as families find themselves facing lengthy queues, the emphasis is on all those with the responsibility for the safety of all – the drivers – to retain their focus at all times.

At Hudgell Solicitors, we see through our work in supporting thousands of people injured in road accidents each year how a moment’s lapse in concentration can have devastating consequences.

Even accidents at relatively low speeds can cause long-term injury and difficulty and disruption to lives, especially any accident involving a pedestrian.

We are proud to help people through compensation settlements which help secure vital rehabilitation treatment, and recover loss of earnings for periods out of work to help them as they look to get back to good health.

However, we know nothing can never take away the impact a serious accident can have on somebody’s life, particularly for families who lose their loved ones.

Whilst speed is an obvious danger, driver error, such as reaching for an object, an extended glance away from the road ahead, or drowsiness and tiredness, are common causes that we see in road accident claims.

Many of these basic driving errors become more likely when those behind the wheel have experienced long-periods of queuing, as concentration levels drop and tiredness creeps in.

Would permanent clocks change reduce road accidents?

Interestingly, as we talk about the increased dangers on the roads, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) believes we are now entering the safest period of the year – British Summer Time, with clocks going forward an hour on Sunday morning.

RoSPA is currently is calling on the Government to retain the Summer Time clock setting for a set trial period beyond the usual return to Greenwich Mean Time on the last Sunday of October, so that its impact on road safety can be properly and accurately assessed.

It comes as accident data, from the Department of Transport, shows a consistent trend in that more pedestrians are killed and injured in the winter months after the clocks go back, when we have shorter days and longer nights.

In 2014, the latest stats available, there were 590 more pedestrian casualties in November (2,486) compared to September (1,878), and of those, 37 more people were killed, and 113 more seriously injured.

RoSPA says this is down to the onset of darker evenings, but of course, conditions of the roads, and how drivers adapt to them, also plays a big part. The question is, do drivers adapt to a change in conditions as they should?

That brings us back to this holiday weekend.

Although we can probably expect some typical British Bank Holiday weather and some downpours across the country over the coming days, drivers shouldn’t be facing icy and treacherous roads.

Nor should they over the coming months, as it will be increasingly dry, and increasingly light.

It is therefore down to those behind the wheel to maintain their concentration, avoid all distractions, to not become frustrated when journeys do not go to plan, and to focus on getting to their destination safely, not quickly.

Hopefully then, we’ll see the reduction in casualties we all want.

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24/03/2016 No Comments

Launch of Brake’s National Road Safety Week is time for us all to consider how we could become safer drivers

RTA-page-imgv4By Matt Tuff, a specialist in serious road accident cases at personal injury specialists, Hudgell Solicitors

Today marks the start of National Road Safety Week, an annual event with a simple but very important goal – to make our roads safer to reduce the number of serious accidents and injuries we see each year.

Founded in 1997 by campaigning road safety charity Brake, the annual event seeks to raise awareness about road safety and promote simple steps that everyone can take to stop the many needless deaths and injuries year-round.

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23/11/2015 No Comments

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Hudgell Solicitors is a trading name of Neil Hudgell Limited | Director Dr. Neil Hudgell MA LLB (Hons) LLD | Registered in England No. 7078429 | Authorised and Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority | SRA No. 521372 | VAT Registration No. 254 7802 90