Driving in wet, windy or icy conditions is never ideal, but sometimes a journey has to be made, even if the weather could be better. JMW Solicitors, a national law firm, gives some advice so you can stay safe and legal on the road, come rain or shine.
Road safety charity Brake recently published a revealing report that detailed the true dangers of driving in wet conditions. Amazingly, around two-thirds of drivers admit to not slowing down on slippery roads and more than two-thirds did not know the correct stopping distances described in the Highway Code.
If you find yourself among those two thirds, then here’s a breakdown of how you can drive safely in bad weather and what might just happen if you don’t.
Who is involved in the most accidents, and why?
Did you know that there were on average four deaths and serious injuries a day in 2019 due to ‘slippery roads’? That’s 1,292 a year!
Research pulled from breakdown provider Green Flag shows that a third of British drivers admitted to not slowing down in wet conditions. In lower age brackets, such as the 18-24 group, that jumps up to a shocking near 50%.
In light of the data from 2019, it raises the question of how many drivers involved in weather-related incidents could have avoided so by driving differently. Of course, sometimes accidents happen, but it’s vital that all drivers react responsibly to their surroundings to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Do most drivers know what to do?
It’s surprising to learn, but many drivers are unaware of the proper precautions they should take when faced with adverse weather. It can be years or even decades since passing your test, and you may have not kept up to date with changes made to the Highway Code.
Pre-journey preparation can only do so much. If you find yourself in the middle of a snow storm or heavy gusts of wind, you’ll need to know how and when to react.
What the Highway Code says
Making yourself aware of the Highway Code is the best way to stay safe on the roads, regardless of weather, but refreshing yourself with the most current advice is what will guarantee your confidence in poor conditions.
Wet weather – When raining or when it has recently rained, stopping distances are at least double their dry road distance. Water causes tyres to have less grip on the road, therefore it takes longer to slow down.
Ice and snow – You must always check weather forecasts before heading out into icy or snowy conditions. Only continue your journey if it is necessary. If you do decide to drive, ensure that you allow for more time to reach your destination and drive much more conservatively.
You should also store emergency equipment somewhere in your vehicle. This includes a first aid kit, ice scrapers, de-icer, warm clothing, a snow shovel and other appropriate provisions. This is to prepare yourself in case of vehicle breakdown.
You can also install tyres more suitable for snowy weather, as well as snow chains when snow is on tarmac.
Windy weather – All vehicles are affected by the wind, but tall vehicles like lorries and vans see the most on the road. Allow for space as vehicles may suddenly swerve due to wind. Keep an eye out for exposed stretches of road, bridges or wide openings.
Motorbikes can be significantly affected by the effects of larger vehicles in windy conditions. If driving near a motorbike in windy weather, keep well back and allow them plenty of space and time, especially if they are passing a high-sided vehicle.
Fog – Use fog lights but only if visibility is significantly reduced. Make sure that you turn off your lights once visibility is better, as these will affect other drivers’ vision.
Bad driving leads to culpability
By properly following the Highway Code, you ensure that if you are unfortunate to be involved in an accident, you won’t be at fault. If your driving is deemed to have caused an accident because you did not appropriately respond to poor weather conditions, you could find yourself in legal trouble. Or, you may have fallen victim to a road traffic accident that was caused by another road user.
If you have been involved in a road traffic accident, you should employ the expert help of solicitors who are experienced in helping individuals make successful claims for financial compensation.