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Dated: 22 January 2010

Road Stats Of Britain's Recent 'Big Freeze'


Accident In The Snow

A quick look on the met office website shows you that finally the extreme weather that gripped Britain in the lead up to Christmas and well into the new year is finally going away. It is now back to what we – as a nation – have become used to during the winter months. Lovely grey slush. People may already beginning to forget the “Big Freeze”, they may even be looking back and saying “what was all the fuss about?”, but one thing that should not be forgotten was how underprepared many drivers were.
Continental Tyres recently carried out a survey of 1,000 drivers and the results are quite astonishing. It seems that 1 in 10 drivers crashed into another road-user over the festive period and 45% reported that they had two or more near misses. The average cost of damage sustained by cars was apparently £325 – and at a time of year when budgets are being stretched, that will have been quite a dent in the bank account. Another interesting statistic was that 34% of those involved in crashes chose to avoid their insurance company in order to keep their ‘no claims bonus.

Tim Bailey, safety expert at Continental Tyres, when asked about the poll results remarked, “This is a shocking number of accidents in a short period and it reveals how many people are unprepared for driving in these conditions. We are not necessarily past the worst yet, as further snow and ice could arrive. The stress of driving in bad weather conditions can lead people to make mistakes, such as driving too closely to the vehicle in front in conditions where stopping distances would be increased. This is when accidents can happen as drivers underestimate the time it takes to come to a full stop.”

The research done by Continental also showed that 1 in 5 drivers, after getting stuck, had to rely on people pushing them out of trouble. A further unfortunate 1 in 12 had to abandon their car completely. It wasn’t only on the roads that vehicle owners found themselves in difficulty. Half of those questioned claimed they had to dig their car out of the snow in order to set off on a journey.

When it comes to maintenance and safety checks, the results become even more worrying. A third of those in the poll confessed that they had set off without being to see out of their windscreen properly – they were in too much of a rush to defrost their car. Men were more culpable on this issue than women.

An alarming 7 out of 10 never checked their tyre tread depth or even whether they were road worthy, assuming they were ok - brings to mind that old saying, “to assume makes an ass out of you and me” (I think that’s right. It is isn’t it? If no-one corrects me I’ll just assume I was right).

When it came down to losing control on the ice, a fifth of drivers were under the wrong impression that they need to “drive out” of the skid – when in fact the best thing to do is turn into the skid.

So, a month and a half of chaos on the roads of Britain it seems. Hopefully though, one good thing that could come out of all this is that when it happens again – not for a while we hope - people will be a bit more educated and know how to drive safer in bad conditions.

One thing we can do to better prepare it fit winter tyres when it starts getting into the winter months. That was the message from Tim Bailey: “Drivers might want to consider fitting cold weather tyres on their car to increase handling and safety over the winter months.”

"This is something that people are not really aware of in the UK, but is standard in other European countries such as Germany, where drivers are liable to be fined if they are not equipped with the right tyres for the wintry conditions.”


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