One in four motorists is risking their safety and a massive fine by failing to properly prepare their car for winter driving.
A poll of UK drivers found that 24 per cent admitted to driving without clearing their windscreen of snow and ice properly.
Not only does this severely limit their ability to see properly and drive safely but can also be classified as driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition. This breaches rule 229 of the Highway Code and is punishable with a fine and three penalty points. In most circumstances you’re likely to be handed a £60 fine but if the case is serious enough to go to court you could be fined as much as £2,500.
The shocking number of drivers willing to put their safety and that of other road users at risk was revealed as new insurance data shows that claims soar in number and severity over winter months.
Figures from Admiral insurance reveal that accident claims are at their highest in November, December and January, with a 25 per cent spike in November compared with April - the month with the fewest claims.
The data also shows that reported incidents in the winter months are more serious. Ten per cent of all incidents classed as “severe” by the insurer take place in November, 11 per cent in December and January and 12 per cent in February.
A quarter of the drivers questioned by the insurer said that they had been involved in an accident in harsh winter conditions yet half were willing to ignore weather warnings and take to the road, even if they weren’t properly prepared.
Half of the driver surveyed said that they would ignore severe or normal flood warnings and continue to drive, despite a severe warning indicating a ‘danger to life’. Almost a fifth (18 per cent) would even venture out in a red weather warning.
That’s despite only a quarter saying they were confident they knew what to do if they hit black ice.
See our guides for advice on how to drive on snow and ice and what to do if you end up in a skid.
Many admitted to going through winter without the basic necessities. A third don’t keep deicer in their car, a quarter don’t own an ice scraper and nearly two-thirds (60 per cent) don’t have a blanket in case they become stuck. Only one in three keeps jump leads in case they need to jump start their own or someone else’s car.
Lorna Connelly, head of claims at Admiral said: “Winter brings with it a range of unpredictable weather that could dramatically impact driving conditions and makes even the shortest of journeys dangerous. Our data shows that not only is there an increase in accidents taking place during the winter months owing to adverse weather conditions, but that the severity of accidents also increases.
“It’s important motorists are aware of the risks involved and follow safety advice when travelling in order to keep themselves, their passengers, and other road users safe, particularly in tricky conditions. As well as understanding what to do if they find themselves driving in poor conditions, there are also simple steps they can take to make sure they are prepared should the worst happen – including travelling with extra provisions during winter.”