Winter driving mistakes to avoid
Winter driving conditions can turn drivers into accidental lawbreakers, the celebrity lawyer ‘Mr Loophole’ has warned in an article for The Mirror. Nick Freeman thinks that many motorists are unaware of how winter driving conditions can sometimes lead to breaking the law.
“There are so many unexpected ways that motorists can break the law at this time of year. It’s why I really want to make all drivers aware of potential problems – and so make roads safer for all users.”
Mistakes to avoid when driving this winter
Here are some things to think about when driving over the next few months. If you can avoid these mistakes this winter you may save yourself some inconvenience. You may even avoid getting points on your driving licence:
- Ugg Boots – Although you might want to keep your feet cosy on a frosty morning, furry boots are not the best option. They can be too big for the pedals and even get caught. This may make it difficult to control the car. The Highway Code (Rule 97) says that drivers should ensure “clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the controls in the correct manner”.
- Gloves – Using your bare hands or gloves that are specifically designed for driving are much safer than most average gloves. The grip on the wheel may be affected in a pair of gloves that are not ‘driving gloves’. This could be a factor in an accident. Serious charges such as driving without due care could lead to points on your licence or worse.
Technology is not always on your side
- Cold weather & electric vehicles – The maximum driving range of an electric car is affected by the cold so winter could be a tricky time for making it to your destination without needing to recharge. If you’re low on power you might be tempted to drive slower than usual. This can cause issues for other motorists. If deemed to be “driving without reasonable consideration” you end up in court.
- Smart motorways – Variable speed limits can lead to a sudden build-up of traffic. This often causes more frustration in queues with higher instances of tailgating when speeds are reduced and the weather is bad. Having no hard shoulder in some stretches can be challenging and dangerous even in good conditions.
How many of these have you done?
- Running your engine unattended – When you are leaving on cold mornings it’s tempting to leave the engine running when defrosting your car but if you are parked on the road (rather than a private driveway) this means breaking the law. “Drivers are expected to always be in control of their vehicle while the engine is running”. You also run the risk of your vehicle begin stolen and not covered by your insurer. Most policies have what they call a ‘key exclusion’ clause. This says that you will not be covered if your car is stolen whilst the engine has been left running.
- Clearing snow – Although time-consuming it is important to clear snow from your car fully, including the number plate. A number plate that is not clear when driving can land you a fine of up to £10. When clearing snow from your car, don’t forget the roof! If snow falls onto your windscreen it could obscure your view. It could also fall into the path of another car which could be equally dangerous. If you have been found to have not cleared the snow properly you could be charged with “driving without reasonable consideration for other road users”.
- Defrosting – It is an offence to drive without properly defrosting and demisting your vehicle. Sometimes it is annoying to wait until the windscreen clears when you’re in a hurry. Though it is an offence to drive without properly defrosting or demisting your vehicle, and the police can fine you.
Can you see in the dark?
- Driving at dusk – As soon as it starts to get dark you must remember to switch on your headlights or risk up to nine points and a fine. Winter afternoons have become suddenly darker since the clock changed. It’s important to either use the automatic setting for your headlights or ensure that you switch on when driving from dusk onwards to ensure you can see and be seen by other road users.
- Eyesight – You must be able to read a car number plate made after September 1 2001 from a distance of 20 metres away. In normal daylight, this may be easier than when driving in the dark. The less light available, the more dilated your pupils become. This can lead to blurred vision making night driving much harder than in the day.
- E-scooters – Scooters are more likely to slide and skid in winter as the brakes are often too sharp for a slippery road surface. Riders may not have much experience in winter conditions or had any specific training. It is best to give them a wider berth than normal. As the driver, you will be at fault after a collision. This is because it is the burden of the motorist to prove that they were not at fault.
Had a bump?
If you have had a skid in icy conditions, been dazzled by the low sunlight or find yourself with damage to your car this winter then get in touch with us at Car Magic and Non-Fault Car Accident Repair for 5-star service from our friendly team.
Our workshop is perfectly situated to help customers from the counties of Herts, Beds and Bucks. Call us Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm on 01442 864022 or fill out our estimate form for a quote within 24 hours during the working week. We’ve got over 20 years of experience in car body repair.
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