Five tips drivers should follow to stay safe over Christmas

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During winter, stopping distances can be up to 10 times longer, meaning drivers must take their time when travelling ahead of Christmas. With this in mind, Confused.com have pulled together advice on how drivers can keep themselves and other road users safe during the winter months. They have also revealed the fines drivers could receive over the festive period.

According to the experts, driving in winter clothing such as coats and scarves can lead to an on-the-spot fine of £100 and three points on the licence.

Rule 97 of the Highway Code states that clothing and footwear should not prevent drivers from correctly using the controls.

Large clothing items such as long coats and scarves may prevent drivers from using the vehicle’s controls effectively. If involved in an accident police could issue ‘driving without due care and attention’ charge.

On top of that, Louise Thomas, car insurance expert at Confused.com, listed her tips on how drivers can ensure their vehicle is safe to drive in snowy and icy conditions.

Having the correct tyres on the vehicle and checking the tyre tread

The type of tyres on a vehicle can make a big difference in how easy it is to drive in snowy and icy conditions, and reduce the risk of skidding on slippery surfaces.

Drivers should also regularly check the tyre tread levels. Whilst the legal limit is 1.6mm of tread depth, it’s recommended in winter to have at least 3mm of tread depth.

Removing snow from the windscreen/licence plate

Before setting off on any journey, it is important to check that any snow and ice are removed from the vehicle.

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This ensures the number plate can be read clearly, and that the driver’s visibility is not reduced. The number plate must be visible to all road users at all times.

Ensuring the car is ready

It is always best to be prepared before setting off on any journey. Screenwash is essential, especially in the winter months when spray off of the road can cause windscreens to get dirtier much quicker.

Drivers should keep the windscreen wash topped up and always keep a bottle of windscreen wash in the vehicle when going on longer journeys.

An emergency kit is a good essential to keep in the vehicle in case of a breakdown. Having one to hand in the vehicle reduces the risk of an already stressful situation turning out to be even worse.

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Drivers could pack a first aid kit, blanket, snacks and a torch to keep themselves and their passengers safe and comfortable if the vehicle were to break down.

Accelerate gently, don’t break hard

Driving on icy and snowy roads can be difficult and risky. Drivers need to take their time, be aware of other road users and concentrate.

When driving on an icy road, it is important to accelerate gently to avoid the need to break hard. When brakes are used, there is a chance the vehicle may skid due to the lack of grip the tires have on the road surface. Drivers should take their time and accelerate gently.

When a vehicle skids, it is essential to drive into the skid instead of steering against it to maintain some control of the vehicle.

Maintaining distance between the vehicle in front

When driving in general, drivers should always keep a two-second stopping distance so they’re able to give themselves time to react.

This is even more important when driving in adverse weather conditions as visibility may be impaired. Icy, snowy and wet road conditions can increase how long it can take to slow down or stop.

Over 48,832 reported accidents occurred in total during wet road conditions in 2020 and 2021 in Great Britain.

Although, it is worth noting that overall accidents were reduced due to lockdowns and restrictions as a result of Covid-19, as fewer people were travelling during this time.

Stopping times are 10 times slower when roads are wet, meaning drivers should take extra care when driving and keep a good distance from other cars.

Data has revealed that most car collisions occurred during rainy weather conditions, with 25,707 reported collisions taking place during both 2020 and 2021.

Visibility can be impaired when there are adverse weather conditions such as rain, especially when travelling at speed due to spray coming off the roads.

Drivers need to check their windscreen wipers are operating effectively to maintain good visibility when driving.

Ms Thomas said: “Road accidents can often be more common during the winter months because of the bad weather, density of traffic and difficult road conditions.

“It’s extremely important to ensure your vehicle is ready for the winter months, to make sure you are driving as safely as possible. No matter the weather, there are scenarios when your insurer may not pay out on an accident.

“Your car insurance should cover you in all weather conditions, but they may not pay out if you’ve broken a traffic offence which has caused an accident or failed to maintain your vehicle. For peace of mind, you should check the list of significant exclusions and limitations on your car insurance policy before setting off.”

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