Study Finds Drivers Fear Accidents, Speeders in Bad Weather

Having an accident is the biggest fear of drivers when severe winter weather strikes, alongside concerns about other people driving too fast and the risk of skidding on ice.

Three out of four people who drive to work would still be likely to try to make their journey despite severe weather, while only one in four would be likely to go shopping or to visit friends.

The findings come from new research into drivers' attitudes commissioned by the British Highways Agency, which is responsible for England's motorways and major roads.

"These findings underline that it's vital for drivers to make sure they are ready for severe winter weather, especially during the festive season when people are setting out on longer journeys to visit family and friends," said Minister of Roads Dr. Stephen Ladyman. "If the weather gets bad, then change how you drive. Slow down and keep extra room between vehicles because it takes longer to stop in wet or icy conditions. Watch out for reduced visibility in fog, heavy rain and spray.

He also suggested checking weather forecasts when planning longer trips, and stay tuned to travel and traffic news while driving. "If the weather becomes severe, don't drive unless you have to - delay your journey until it improves," Ladyman suggested.

The Highways Agency advises drivers to be prepared for winter by making sure their vehicle is ready with a winter emergency kit - warm clothes and boots, food, water, de-icer and an ice-scraper, a flashlight, a first aid kit and, for the worst conditions, a shovel.

The research also found that:

  • Women drivers react differently to severe conditions than men. If children are with them, 40 percent of women say they are likely to decide not to travel in severe weather, compared to 26 percent of men.
  • Drivers are more likely to cancel their journey during snow or icy weather than because of other weather conditions such as fog or storms.
  • Researchers also asked drivers about their views on the electronic message signs on motorways, used to provide up-to-date information to drivers. Most people would leave the road at the next opportunity if instructed to by the electronic signs. However, one in 10 would try to complete their journey regardless of the information on the signs.
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