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UK’s motorists over-confident and unprepared for snow and ice

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With much of the UK under ice and snow, new research worryingly reveals many UK motorists are over-confident yet unprepared to drive in frozen conditions.

Online insurance expert, elephant.co.uk surveyed 2,000 UK motorists about their experiences of driving in wintry weather and found more than two fifths (44%) have lost control of their car on snowy or icy roads, with one in eight (13%) crashing as a result.

Nearly two fifths (38%) of drivers say they have been shown how best to control their car in the ice, however many more than that (66%) believe they know what they need to do if they hit an icy patch of road.

Men are more confident than women when it comes to their ability to drive on frozen roads. Almost three-quarters (73%) of men claim they would know how to control their car if it skidded on ice, compared to three fifths of women (60%).

Despite this more men than women admit they have lost control of their car in the ice (47% compared to 41%) and more men have crashed their car due to snowy and icy conditions (15% compared to 11%).

Elephant.co.uk managing director Brian Martin said, “With so few of us having been shown how best to control our cars on frozen roads it’s not surprising many have lost control or worse still, crashed.

“As the temperature drops and roads get icy, accidents can happen to anyone, but you can reduce your chances of a collision. Taking extra care, finding out how to spot black ice and learning the best way to control your car if you do skid will go a long way to keep you safe if you have to drive.

“That’s why we’ve created a short video to show motorists how to prepare their vehicle for this weather and how to best to handle their car if they can’t avoid driving in icy conditions.”
Elephant’s study also found just a third (32%) of motorists know how to spot black ice. By its nature black ice is hard to detect before you hit it but there are things you can look out for.

Brian Martin continued, “Black ice tends to form in the early morning and evening when the temperature is freezing or below, or in more shaded spots of the road. So, if the conditions are cold, the road appears to be wet but you don’t see any spray it could well be a patch of black ice. “

Worryingly the research revealed as many as one in eight (13%) drivers said they do not drive more slowly or cautiously when conditions are snowy or icy.

Brian Martin continued, “If you cannot avoid using your car, it’s important to take extra care and drive much more cautiously.

“You should also make sure you’ve made the necessary preparations to your vehicle, however our study revealed only a third of us do make any special preparations to their car in the winter.”

One in ten people don’t keep anything at all in their car to prepare for difficult conditions, however the most common things people have are windscreen scrapers, de-icer, torches and blankets. Very few motorists keep a shovel, tow rope or salt in their boot all of which could prove essential if the worst happened.

elephant.co.uk has created a short film to help motorists drive safely in icy and snowy conditions. With the help of former rally driver and expert ice driver Andrew McKenna, the video provides advice on how to best control your car if you hit ice and simple steps to prepare your car for winter driving.