With reports of more fatalities and serious accidents on UK roads last year and the worst of winter weather traditionally around the corner in Wales, car warranty company MotorEasy urged drivers to consider a cautious approach on country roads in particular.
This is their advice, particularly for new drivers who are facing their first winter on the roads:
Check traffic updates: Before setting off on your journey, be sure to check Highways England or local authority social media pages for real-time updates on road closures. By doing this, you can minimise the risk of unexpected detours along country lanes, and plan your route accordingly.
Keep your speed down: The national speed limit for UK single carriageway country roads is 60 mph. However, with blind bends, uneven terrain and no pavements for pedestrians and cyclists, it is worth using judgement and driving at an appropriate speed depending on the type of road. Tyre grip is greatly reduced on snowy and icy roads, and losing grip with the roads can be the cause of many dangerous situations for motorists.
Take care when overtaking: The RAC reported that 59% of fatal car accidents had driver error or reaction reported as a contributory factor leading to the accident. Country lanes are well known for having blind corners and sharp bends with high hedges, which can reduce the visibility of a safe overtaking of another vehicle. Always be aware of your surroundings – if there seems to be debris on the road, this may be why the vehicle in front is driving slower than the speed limit. Don’t overtake if you don’t need to.
Use brakes gently: The braking distances on ice as well as wet roads increases dramatically compared to a dry road. As with any icy road, slamming on the brakes will increase the risk of skidding as the tyres will lose traction with the road. If you encounter an icy patch or even black ice, tap the brakes gently multiple times, steer into a skid and use a higher gear to aid grip when pulling away again.
Be prepared in case of breakdowns: The leading breakdown companies should cover rural areas, but it may take longer to reach your location if you experience issues in the countryside. Always keep items such as a torch with spare batteries, a portable phone charger, a warm blanket and an extra jacket with hat and gloves in the car to be prepared.
Duncan McClure-Fisher, CEO at MotorEasy said, “During the winter months it is crucial that motorists are mindful of the varying driving conditions that they may encounter, and adapt their speed accordingly.
“Driving on potentially icy countryside roads requires a sharp focus, anticipation and ability to drive with extra caution and care due to the unpredictable nature of the road conditions. During winter, country roads may not be gritted and are especially prone to flooding – so it is advisable to stick to main roads where possible in order to reach your destination safely.”