Seven Ways to Drive Safe During the Winter
Driver behaviour remains the top cause of crashes. Data provided by the ONS from 1995 and into the following decade show that traffic accidents rise by nearly 30 per cent compared to the rest of the year. It’s not just Christmas, it’s the onset of Winter.
What can you do to improve your road safety this December and January?
In 2015 the Department of Transport published the Annual Report for 2014 road casualties, showing an increase of 4 per cent on 2013. However, the following year showed a DECREASE of 2 per cent. Yet despite the drop in 2015, the numbers of reported deaths each year are still more than 1600. Driving during harsh weather conditions can be very hazardous. It is unsurprisingly that the NHS consistently each year report a rise in A&E cases for December and January. Many of these cases are road traffic accidents caused by multiple factors:
Ensure that your brakes work correctly before setting off on a journey, especially in the morning. If you have a regular car service, then it’s highly probable that your brake pads are fine but even so in freezing temperatures sometimes brakes can be negatively affected. It’s always a good idea to test them in an emergency stop before embarking on a long commute or going on the motorway.
Drive safe – it is better to leave larger gaps between traffic especially during fog, snow, or potential icy conditions. Underestimating the distance between traffic can cause a collision.
Motor vehicle Breakdown?
Should you break down in cold conditions it is a good idea to carry a warm blanket in your boot. You never know how long you will be, especially if you have no breakdown cover. It is not advisable either to remain in your vehicle. Fatal accidents still occur of broken down vehicles in the hard shoulder of a motorway. Charlotte Long, a young actress, died on the M4 motorway when a lorry crashed into her parked car after it had broken down. At the inquest into her death, the lorry driver lost control of his vehicle because he ‘sneezed’.
Also, take a torch, emergency snacks and water, a high visibility jacket, and a warning triangle. These are all easily stored in your boot. If you sort all this out in early November, it’s done and dusted. It’s probably a good idea too to have breakdown services stored in your smart phone if you don’t subscribe to cover. Anyone who’s ever broken down atop the Grain Road in East Lancashire in cold or snow conditions will tell you it can be deeply stressful and frightening.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Exercise your good judgement. If you’re out on a work’s Christmas party use public transport or a taxi to get home. Each year see we public resources put into awareness campaigns across digital media, radio, and television. Yet on average more than 2000 people are killed or seriously injured each year in drink drive collisions. This number includes pedestrians and cyclists. So, despite the awareness, some still choose to ignore it.
Common sense overrides any excuse for speeding. Don’t do it. Drive safe. If you’re worried about being late for an appointment or about traffic you simply should get into the habit of leaving earlier. It’s plain and simple. Don’t worry about other cars speeding. Focus on you. You don’t want to be the person that causes a death because of your negligence – specially at Christmas time.
It hardly takes a moment to check your front and rear lights in the morning. You wouldn’t want to do that to someone else, having a rear brake light out. The other thing, make sure your fog lights work too. Remember, severe weather conditions can lead to errors in judgement.
Does your vehicle heater work correctly? It’s a common problem that people get to winter only to discover a the heater no longer works properly. In cold temperatures, it’s virtually impossible to see out of the windscreen through condensation. A likely cause of an accident.
In the UK snow chains are not compulsory. We simply don’t have enough snow (rain yes but never snow especially in Preston!). Make sure you have no bald tyres. Even though you have an MOT certificate a tyre may still subsequently reduce in durability so make sure you check all your tyres again before the winter sets in. Having the correct air pressure on them too increases performance. Do this during the weekend if you have a busy weekly schedule.
Merry Christmas!! And Drive Safe during the season of Goodwill!
*Sources – Dept of Transport, ONS, NHS