British Drivers Slip Up On The Roads

According to research released today, many British drivers are ill-prepared when it comes to winter driving and are committing a host of driving ‘sins’ on slippery roads.

The unseasonably warm weather may have lulled drivers into a false sense of security and now the cold snap has finally hit, British drivers aren’t prepared, a survey commissioned by Kia Motors UK Limited shows. One of the main concerns the survey uncovered is the difference between what drivers know about safe driving in the winter months and how they actually act.

When it comes to items kept in the car in winter, despite 54 per cent agreeing that it’s important to carry a first aid kit, only two in five motorists actually keep one in the car (40 per cent). Something as potentially life-saving as a reflective hazard triangle is carried by less than a third of British drivers (30 per cent) despite more than half (52 per cent) considering it to be an important piece of kit for driving over the winter months. More than two thirds of drivers (68 per cent) regard warm clothes or blankets to be important kit to keep in the car when driving in winter, yet only 40 per cent of British drivers regularly carry them.

Some of the biggest motoring ‘sins’ seem to happen during winter. Most worrying of all is that drivers’ grip on the roads could be more of a hazard with just over one in three drivers (35 per cent) failing to check the tread and pressure of their tyres each month last winter. They don’t seem to mind about good visibility either. Thirty per cent of British drivers confess to setting off without waiting for their windows to be fully clear of ice and mist.

Forewarned is forearmed - but not for almost a quarter of respondents (23 per cent) who freely admit to driving last winter without checking what the weather had in store for them.

Battle of the sexes

The stereotype that the ‘petrol-head’ male knows how to take care of his car may not be as accurate as you might think. In fact, women are more aware of the important items to keep in cars during the winter than men are. Although when it comes to putting that education into practice, they are almost as guilty as men.

Youth vs. experience

Unsurprisingly, when it comes to winter driving, experience counts for a great deal. Not only do 18-24 year olds rank the lowest at basic car maintenance, such as keeping an eye on tyre tread (49 per cent), but they are also three times less likely to take notice of longer braking distances in wintry conditions than drivers over the age of 55 (nine per cent against three per cent).

But why are Brits so careless when it comes to winter driving?

Hamish McCowan, Aftersales and Logistics Director at Kia Motors UK, points the finger at a lack of preparation on the part of many motorists. “In my experience, many drivers know how to check basics such as oil and water but when it comes to driving in the winter, they talk a good talk but don’t always follow it up with the right actions. Being prepared is half the battle and carrying just the most basic of items will mean that the impact of any incident in the winter, such as a vehicle breakdown, can be reduced.”

To help drivers be better prepared for the coming cold snap, here are five top tips from Kia Motors:

  • British weather can change in a matter of hours. Carry basic safety equipment no matter what the current conditions may be
  • Always wait for all windows to clear fully of mist and ice before setting off on your journey - otherwise you are just creating more blind spots for yourself
  • Never travel long journeys without a mobile phone that’s fully charged
  • To minimise the risk of skidding on icy roads, check tyre pressure and tread at least once a month and before setting out on long journeys
  • Icy conditions mean braking distances can be 10 times longer than when driving on a dry road. Always take road conditions into account and adjust your speed accordingly

Other findings from the survey include:

  • Drivers in the capital are among the worst prepared of all drivers in Britain and are least likely to carry de-icers, torches, first aid kits and warm clothing
  • One in four (25 per cent) drivers from the North failed to check the weather before setting out on a journey last winter
  • Drivers in the Midlands tend to be the worst offenders and are most likely to commit four out of five of the top winter driving ‘sins’
Published 16 November 2007 Melanie Carter

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