Driving In Inclement Weather
The recent onset of inclement weather should be
reminding UK drivers of the need for extra caution when
driving in poor conditions. It should also be reminding
all drivers, especially young drivers of the need for
good car insurance cover. Being involved
in a road traffic accident can be very costly, whether
you’re at fault or not. Although most drivers have the
attitude that accidents can’t happen to them, the fact
remains that every driver is just as vulnerable as
anyone else using the road. All drivers, especially
young and novice drivers must take extra care if they
wish to avoid car crashes.
During 2007, in the UK alone there were 369 people
killed, 3,910 people seriously injured, and 24,771
people slightly injured due to car crashes involving
inclement weather. There have been at least 11 more
people killed in December, 2010, due to accidents caused
by this last bit of inclement weather. Statistics show
that 90%-95% of all auto accidents are due to driver
error and aggressive driving in even the best of driving
conditions. Therefore, inclement weather warrants using
Inclement weather hazards
There are numerous hazardous conditions during inclement
weather. Some may be very obvious, while others are less
apparent. Here’s a list of hazards to be alert for:
Ø Limited visibility: Remember if you can’t see well due
to the weather or road conditions, then it’s very likely
other drivers probably can’t see very well either. Make
sure you and your vehicle are visible to others.
Ø Slippery roads: Remember roads can become very
slippery when wet, especially when it first begins to
rain, sleet, or snow because the oil on the road becomes
Ø Snow, ice, and slush on roads: Remember that not all
ice is visible to the human eye, especially after dark.
Not only can there be ice and snow on the road from the
natural snow or ice storm, it can be there from dropping
off of vehicles travelling on the road, or be blown on
to the road from snow drifts along side the road. In
2007 UK, 515 accidents during daylight hours and 311
more accidents during darkness were due to snow combined
with driver error.
Ø Windscreen dazzle/snow glare: In Autumn, the sun can
hang low enough to blind drivers. In winter, the snow
can cause a glare that blinds drivers. It’s a good idea
to keep a high-quality pair of sunglasses in your
vehicle, within easy reach of the driver.
Ø Fog: Fog can be dangerous whether it’s just patchy or
thick as pea soup. Fog creates limited visibility
hazards. In 2007, there were 452 crashes in fog in
darkness and 405 in fog in daylight in the UK alone.
Ø Rain and flooding: Remember that rain can make the
roads slippery. It can also cause flooding, which is
just as dangerous, if not more dangerous to drivers and
their passengers than slippery roads are. Don’t drive on
a road that has 2 or more inches of water on it. There
were 9,722 crashes in rain in darkness and 16,072 in
rain in daylight in the UK during 2007.
Ø Strong winds: Wind is one of the hazards that may not
be as easily recognised as a dangerous driving hazard.
However, it definitely is a safety risk factor. Strong
winds, cross currents, and wind turbulence can all cause
a car to be swept off the road, be turned over, or can
cause the driver to unexpectedly lose control of the
Some other less obvious risks during inclement weather
are road rage, more aggressive driving, and other
drivers failing to adjust their driving to the poor
driving conditions. However, there are certain things
you can do to avoid accidents and arrive to your
destination safely despite how other drivers are
Don't drive in inclement weather unless absolutely
Winterise your vehicle: Put snow tyres on all four
wheels, and make sure they are properly inflated and
have the correct amount of tread. Add anti-freeze and
other winter additive fluids, and make sure your car is
in proper working condition, especially the brakes,
lights, and the heater/defroster. Also ensure that the
vehicle has adequate petrol. Additionally, make sure the
windscreen wipers are working and that the windows,
mirrors, and windscreen are clean and completely cleared
of ice, snow, and steam.
Check weather and road conditions ahead of time, and
plan for any alternate routes you may need to take. Also
remember that certain roads can be extremely dangerous
during specific types of inclement weather. Some roads
may be more susceptible to ice, strong cross winds, or
flooding than other roads are.
Allow extra time (at least two hours extra) and plan
for hold-ups. Also keep a map handy in case you must
Always ensure that someone knows where you are going
and what time you expect to arrive so they can notify
authorities or call for emergency help if you don’t show
up within a reasonable time.
Always carry an emergency kit with you, and be sure
it’s stocked with essential items such as: torch,
ice-scraper and de-icer fluid, extra clothes, cloths, a
high-visibility vest, warning triangle, flares,
blankets, boots, food and drink for several days,
first-aid kit, a map, and a spade or shovel.
Ensure you’re fit to drive before attempting to drive
in poor driving conditions. Especially don’t drive while
impaired by drugs, alcohol, medications, stress, or
Eliminate any unnecessary distractions, both inside
and outside the car. Turn off your mobile phone while
driving, keep the noise level to a minimum, avoid
activities that require removing your hands from the
steering wheel, and stay focused on your driving.
Slow down to a low speed suited to the road and
weather conditions. Leave extra space between you and
the vehicles around you, especially the one in front of
you. Avoid braking quickly and sharply, and be prepared
for sudden stops.
Be extra aware of other road users, especially
pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes, and horses. They are
much harder to see and are more likely to act
unpredictably during inclement weather.
Use your lights properly, and keep them on during
gloomy weather. Use both, front and rear fog lights in a
The best way to avoid accidents during inclement weather
is to simply not drive. However, if you live in an area
where poor driving conditions frequently occur, then you
should try to obtain extra driver education that
specifically covers those types of weather and road
conditions. You should also ensure that you have
adequate or even extra auto liability insurance during
the inclement weather months. Car crashes can be vey
expensive in numerous ways, and you will want to be sure
you, your family, and your property are completely
protected in case an accident does occur.
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Copyright Finance UK 2010