The nights may have drawn in and the heating turned up, but sadly most of us cannot just shut up shop and hibernate all winter. This means we have to brave the elements and get in our cars or on our bikes in less than pleasant conditions!
Unfortunately, whilst the weather has taken a turn for the worse, the rules of the road do not change just because the conditions are more challenging. A study by the tyre manufacturer Continental suggests there are nearly 6,500 more accidents on the road in winter than in summer, but how many could have been avoided if a little more care had been taken?
Here are some simple but handy tips for driving in winter conditions, and for avoiding ending up on the wrong side of a claim against you for negligent driving:
- Keep an eye on the weather forecast! If it is going to snow or be very cold / icy, give yourself more time to get to work in the morning – don’t be that driver who is running late and takes that corner a bit too quickly…
- Check your tyres are suitable for the conditions: if you can afford them, winter tyres are a good option to give you that extra grip down the hill at the bottom of your road. If you have normal tyres, check the tread depths and make sure they are not clogged with mud or leaves – you need every bit of grip you can.
- Increase your distance behind other vehicles, even if the gap seems too far. If you skid into the back of another vehicle, a court will not be interested in the climate; it will wonder why you didn’t give yourself more space to brake. Similarly, your insurers won’t be sympathetic when they are paying out for repairs and injury claims – and they won’t hesitate to increase those premiums…
- Avoid distractions. Whilst this always applies, the unexpected is more likely to occur in less familiar road conditions. Turn the radio down a notch or two, drink your coffee later, ask your partner to gossip at work instead for a change – although the latter may lead to a different type of injury!
- Do not trust any other road user. They may be just as unfamiliar with the conditions and be more likely to panic if you flash your lights to let them in or try and sneak past them in a queue.
- Most importantly, stay vigilant! Expect the unexpected, remember that the gritter only grits the main roads, assume that children might forget their green cross code when there are snowmen to build, make sure the car has de-fogged before setting off!
If you remember these little tips, you are much less likely to come unstuck on the roads during the colder months. If you fall victim to one of those people who forgets them and suffer injuries or damage in an accident, we are always here to help.