Mitigating The Dangers Of Driving In Winter

Mitigating The Dangers Of Driving In Winter

Over 20% of car crashes are weather-related, occurring during extreme conditions such as snow, sleet, fog or severe winds. As well as dealing with the day to day hazards on the road, motorists are faced with slippery surfaces, poor visibility, and extreme cold, which can all have a detrimental effect on safe driving. With winter fast approaching, now is a good time for motorists to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy and suitable for poor driving conditions. In addition, by taking greater care on wet and icy roads and being more aware of other unpredictable drivers, the potentially devastating effects of a car crash can be avoided.

Choosing A Suitable Vehicle

No matter what the driving conditions will be, one of the top criteria for choosing a new vehicle is overall safety. Many drivers feel that a larger and heavier vehicle such as an SUV offers greater protection, especially in winter. Greater ground clearance is certainly beneficial in heavy snow, and on slippery surfaces, a vehicle with four-wheel-drive gives better traction. Before heading out in treacherous conditions, any vehicle should be checked for adequate tire tread, working windscreen wipers, and fully functioning headlights. As older batteries struggle in cold weather, replacing them is advisable. Together with adding coolant to the engine to avoid it freezing, these steps can help to minimize the chance of breaking down or having an accident.

Driving In Poor Conditions

Even in a roadworthy vehicle, safe driving can be hampered by wintry weather. Roads in more than 70% of the country are affected by heavy snowfall each year. As well as reducing visibility, this can slow driving speeds by over a third, causing long delays and travel times.  In addition, overall stopping distances can be ten times as long in icy conditions, so encouraging drivers to increase their following distance is vital to avoid collisions. As well as generally driving more slowly and carefully, the need to keep greater control on slippery surfaces means that the use of cruise control can be dangerous, as it will try to keep the car at a constant speed, even if it begins to skid.

Additional Holiday Hazards

Looking well ahead and anticipating hazards is also vital to avoid collisions with unpredictable road users. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 40% of traffic deaths over Christmas and New Year involve drunk drivers. And even though the roads tend to be quieter, New Year’s Day is consistently one of the worst days for road fatalities related to alcohol consumption.  Drivers who remain alert, avoid distractions in the car and increase their following distance are in a better position to avoid a collision with an erratic or unpredictable driver.

Severe weather conditions can be extremely dangerous for drivers. By ensuring their vehicle is suitable for difficult conditions, driving cautiously in wintry weather, and staying alert to other road users, the chance of an accident can be minimized.