Ill-Prepared Motorists Continue To Risk All In Big Chill

Winter Driving


The predicted ‘Big Freeze’ this weekend will once again highlight the risk millions of motorists will take on their journeys this winter.

The statistics show the average driver is ill prepared to cope with the sub-zero and impaired conditions they’re likely to face over the coming months, leading tyre manufacturer, Avon Tyres.

Data from the Department of Transport shows 48 per cent of accidents during the winter are caused by vehicles skidding out of control; this compares to 11 per cent in dry months - an alarming four-fold increase *¹.

A car travelling in normal conditions at 30mph will need 23 metres to stop. In icy weather, stopping distances could be up to ten times as far. If you’re on a motorway doing 70mph, you may need up to a kilometre before safely coming to a stop *².

In an effort to address driver ‘apathy’ towards winter driving, Avon Tyres is calling for Government agencies to follow their European counterparts and initiate a high profile education campaign to improve awareness of the issue.

“More needs to be done to improve driver awareness,” warns Malcolm Jones, product planning manager for Avon Tyres. “Unfortunately, the average motorist doesn’t adjust their driving to safely cope with these icy conditions. We are not taught how to re-calibrate our style. The potential of being involved in an accident is made even stronger, with many motorists venturing out on the roads with potentially under-inflated and badly worn tyres.”

The unpredictable nature of the British winter plays its part too. Chaotic scenes in January 2003 saw thousands of drivers stranded on the M25 and M11 overnight as the Highways Agency failed to deploy gritters before the ice and snow set-in.

Avon Tyres top five tips for safer winter motoring:

  • If you start to skid, try not to brake suddenly, but gently ease off the accelerator and steer into the direction of the skid
  • Drive slower and allow extra space to slow down and stop
  • To avoid locking your wheels when driving on ice, use a lower gear earlier than normal and apply the brakes gently as your speed falls
  • Wheel spin can be avoided by using the highest gear possible
  • Do not brake harshly or accelerate sharply and make sure you manoeuvre gently
The temperature in the UK falls below 7 degrees Celsius for at least three months on average (December-February) according to the Meteorological Office. When temperatures plummet, experts recommend changing to ‘winter’ tyres - something only 3 per cent of British motorists do compared to 10 per cent in Netherlands and 50 per cent in Germany.

“A cold snap always highlights just how little attention drivers pay to their tyres,” Jones adds. “There is a real need to change perception of the reality of driving on wintry roads.”

28 November 2005 Staff

The information contained this motoring news article may have changed since publication. Product specifications, reviews and editorial may only apply to the UK market. You may wish to check with the manufacturer before making a purchasing decision. E.&.O.E. You may NOT reproduce our motoring news in full or part, in any format without our written permission. © 2018