Weather advice: Motorists warned to be careful

PUBLISHED: 12:06 21 December 2009 | UPDATED: 00:42 16 June 2010

SAFETY experts have called on motorists to take more care to avoid being one of thousands of accidents this week that will clog the roads, create holiday misery and cost billions in lost productivity and extra insurance claims.

SAFETY experts have called on motorists to take more care to avoid being one of thousands of accidents this week that will clog the roads, create holiday misery and cost billions in lost productivity and extra insurance claims.

This weekend the number of motorists on the roads will increase as people start to head around the country at the start of the Christmas holidays. Accidents are set to rise as people struggle to know how to drive in difficult conditions.

Drivers are having to cope with any combination of deep snow, ice, localized flooding and excessive surface water.

As result of the poor driving by many and the impaired performance of conventional tyres at lower temperatures tens of thousands are heading for a prang or more serious collision.

Guy Frobisher, head of road safety for Continental said: "Every winter we have problems because motorists are poorly equipped to cope. First many of us still refuse to slow down and a leave greater distance to the vehicle in front.

"We have a mix of snow, ice and excess water and all of these conditions combined with low temperatures will reduce the performance of conventional tyres and create the misery of an accident that could be avoided".

The number of road accidents is six times higher in winter than the rest of the year as a result of road conditions and plummeting temperatures.

Drivers are being urged to make the switch to cold weather tyres as in other parts in Europe.

"If UK road users were on cold weather tyres we would not have seen as many problems as we have had with the enormous cost to the economy that represents.

"Much of our road network is at capacity so any disruption has a disproportionate effect and means the kind of chaos we are seeing now".

Across Europe drivers will switch to cold weather tyres to combat the combination of poor conditions and freezing temperatures.

The rubber compound in cold weather tyres is designed to perform better below seven degrees Celsius.

Tyres remain supple thanks to a softer and cold-resistant rubber compound. The special tread pattern also adds to reduce the braking distance.

At just 20 mph on an icy road a car with conventional tyres will come to a standstill after 68 metres, some 11 metres - or over two car lengths - more than a car fitted with cold weather tyres.

Even as snow and ice melts road users will face problems and the risk of aquaplaning.

At 62 mph on a wet road with temperatures below seven degrees Celsius the stopping distance on conventional tyres is five metres more than with cold weather tyres fitted - more than the length of a car and potentially the difference between stopping safely or an accident.

Continental also recommend the following checklist:

* Visibility is vital. Keep your windscreen and windows clear

* Check your lights are clean and working

* Reduce your speed on slippery surfaces and avoid harsh braking or acceleration

* At low speeds use second rather than first gear to avoid starting to spin the wheels and gently apply and lift the clutch to allow safer engine braking without the need to step on the brakes

* Increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front - in rain, ice and snow leave enough space to stop safely

* Allow up to ten times the normal braking distance, especially on motorways

For more information and guidance visit www.tyresforlife.co.uk.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Midweek Herald. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Midweek Herald