Stay safe on the roads this winter

It seems as though winter has certainly arrived – the clocks have gone back, the temperature has dropped and de-icer has become the featured product at the shops.

We’ve got some helpful advice for driving in these colder darker months – from Stephen Hay, our litigation director.

  1. Be Prepared!

Car maintenance is imperative. Do you have enough anti-freeze in your radiator? Is your oil topped up? Is your screen wash filled with enough solution so that it does not freeze? Do you have spare bulbs in your car? Do you know how to fit them? These are things that it should be considered now – not when you need them.

  1. Speed limits are not targets.

Speed limits are just that – limits. They are not targets. They are the maximum safe speed in good conditions. If there is ice on the road your braking distance can be many times longer than it would be normally. Give yourself time to react to what is happening up ahead by driving slower. By doing this you also give yourself a better chance to bring your car to a stop and avoid being involved in an accident.

  1. Listen to advice

It is rare that we have heavy snow falls or prolonged icy conditions, but we should all be aware of the chance of localised flurries of snow and to ice on the roads. Most modern cars have warnings for low temperatures. When these sound, listen to them. If there is a weather warning and it is advised to only make essential journeys, listen to the advice. Do not venture out in the car to go to the shops or to work. Your employer should understand that if the car is your only way of getting to work and there is advice not to drive that you will take this advice!

  1. Consider winter tyres

While many parts of mainland Europe  have a requirement to put winter tyres on at a specific point in the year, in the UK we are not legally required to – but they are something to consider. Standard tyres on a car operate well down to about 7 degrees Celsius, but below this the rubber does not work so well. Winter tyres are made from a different compound and have different tread patterns which significantly increases grip leading to less sliding, and increased effectiveness of brakes.

  1. Know how to handle a skid

Controlling a car that is in a skid is not easy. It is better to keep control of your car at all times than to try and rectify a skid, however sometimes skids are unavoidable. Reduce your speed and look as far ahead as possible at road conditions, and be aware that icy patches are more common on bridges. Try not to make any sudden or hard movements with your brakes or steering that could cause you to suddenly find yourself sliding sideways toward a lamppost or a tree.

  1. If you are in an accident…

Photos taken at the time of the accident can make a difference to your claim. On a single carriageway, pictures showing how far over to one side of the road you were can be very useful. If there are skid marks or tyre tracks, take pictures of those too.
Remember to take note of the registration of the third party, their name and their address, if they refuse, you can call the police. If they give you a mobile number call it from the accident scene so that you can be certain the number is correct, and consider sharing details of the accident by text with the other driver.

If you do have the misfortune to be involved in an accident this winter, contact Gildeas and we will intimate your claim to the insurers of the other driver and progress your repairs directly with them. Remember to stay safe this winter!