UK motorists unprepared for driving in bad weather

One in five motorists say they had no experience of driving in any sort of bad weather when they passed their test.

These findings from Young Driver comes in the wake of the worst storm to hit the country in seven years.

The research was conducted with 1,000 motorists on behalf of Young Driver to find out how prepared the country’s motorists feel getting behind the wheel in more difficult weather.

Even without conditions being as dangerous as those created by Storm Ciara, one in five (21%) admitted they don’t feel confident driving in rain, whilst 46% said they felt unprepared to take to the roads in icy or snowy conditions. 52% of female drivers said ice made them nervous, as opposed to 39% of men.

Those aged 25 to 34 were the most confident in bad weather, although still 18% worried about getting behind the wheel when it was raining, and 28% when it was frosty. Driving in rain was most likely to worry the youngest drivers, aged 18 to 24 (28%).

Statistically, February is the month when the UK is most likely to experience snow. According to the Met Office, the UK gets approximately 23 days of snowfall each year and on average it falls 3.9 days in December, 5.3 days in January, 5.6 days in February and 4.2 days in March.

Sue Waterfield, head of marketing at Young Driver, said: “Obviously when conditions are as bad as we have seen in the last week, the advice is not to travel unless absolutely necessary. But living in the UK we often have rain or frost over the winter months and motorists do need to be confident that they know how to handle their vehicle if they’re driving in those situations.

“Unfortunately, it seems many feel they were unprepared during their learning journey, with one in five new drivers never having experienced driving in any kind of difficult weather. It’s one of the reasons we suggest extending learning over a longer period of time, as it gives people a chance to try driving in lots of different weather conditions and in varying levels of light, whilst they have a qualified instructor beside them in a car with dual controls.”

4 thoughts on “UK motorists unprepared for driving in bad weather”

  1. Lgv driver trainer

    Motorists say they have not experienced weather conditions when they were learning to drive, perhaps if they had looked out of the window instead of playing with their phones they might have seen if the sun was shining or wet stuff falling from the sky.

  2. Kevan Chippindall-Higgin

    Of course any instructor would like to offer training in poor weather. The difficulty is that it is utterly impossible to plan bad weather in advance in winter, never mind summer.

    There remain two possibilities. One is to insist that all new drivers spend some time on one of those cars on a cradle which can be manipulated to mimic all sorts of nasty road conditions right through to total control loss and then training on how to cope if it all goes horribly wrong. This would require lots of space, something at a premium in the UK and so would be extremely expensive, perhaps prohibitively so.

    The second possibility would be to talk through observation and planning strategies, including checking the weather forecast every morning and couple this to detailed coverage of micro climates, exterior temperature gauge use, tyre choice and so forth. This should be standard practice yet very few instructors are properly informed on such matters.

    Of course, we are focusing on new drivers. But what about the ‘experienced’ licence holders? On a good day, in the rush hour their behaviour is scandalous. Once conditions deteriorate, the driving becomes homicidal. What are we going to do about them? Periodic re-testing is the answer, but that is political anathema, so the crocodile tears are shed by the bucket load, empty slogans are bandied about and nothing gets done.

  3. Paul Millbank

    It’s ridiculous that any driver, no matter how old, isn’t coached in adverse weather condition driving techniques. How many of the drivers asked in this survey are even aware that there’s winter driving courses available? How many would sign up to them? How many would rather go to the pub than have some training and then blame “the system” for any collision?
    All my learners back when I taught novice drivers were instructed in skid avoidance, vehicle control, ESP systems, ABS braking and Cadence braking techniques.
    The number of instructors I’d met at test centres that wouldn’t do this was mind boggling and a real worry. I’m not saying I’m the best instructor in the world, far from it. What I am saying is that I use my industry knowledge to help make a difference.
    Even a basic controlled stop from 60mph will save a life one day and yet I know of no instructor who does them over 30mph……I could go on…..
    Rant over 😏

  4. Well firstly I’m an ADI with over 30 years doing the job. I am not going to train a learner to drive in ice or snow. That could end up being a very difficult to explain insurance claim. I advise stay at home. I train in everything else including fog.
    I quite agree that spreading learning out over a longer period of time is a good idea but how could it be marketed to an 17 year old who just wants to do it as quickly and as cheaply as possible? Pass plus does include all weather conditions but unless “conditions” are prevalent on the lesson date then that gets done as a theory session which is ok but not ideal. The take up of Pass Plus is hardly at all in my experience and now that I can take them on a motorway on L Plates I expect it to be almost nil take up. Is making it compulsory an idea all be it a very unpopular one.
    I can only teach in difficult weather if I get some on the day and then only for those pupils that are booked in.
    Like changing channels on your TV if you don’t like the program then don’t drive if you don’t like bad conditions. I know some people who live on the Isle of Wight who won’t go to Portsmouth because of the motorways and whilst we might laugh at them this self inforced isolation makes perfect sense.
    Taking longer to learn a good idea but unenforceable.
    There are no votes in road safety.

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