Wednesday 7 December 2016

Turning a blind eye to cold snap safety

Published 06/01/2010 | 12:54

ONE in every three motorists drives off on a frosty morning without being able to see properly because he or she has failed to clear the ice and snow out of the windscreen, a new survey has revealed.

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Such is their hurry that they choose instead to clear the screen by letting the car warm up – and this can take some time. But, as several studies on the use of seatbelts have shown, a large proportion of accidents happen near the home and within a short time of starting out on a journey.

According to the survey, carried out by Continental Tyres, most motorists said they were “in too much of a rush” to fully defrost their windows before heading off to work. And men were more guilty than women at revving off into the frosty yonder while peering through a tiny patch of clear glass.

The company polled 4,000 drivers in Ireland and the UK, and found that more than 10pc of respondents had had a nearmiss within the last year because they hadn't cleared their windscreen.

General manager Paddy Murphy said: “Preparation is key when setting out in your car. It is essential to be able to see and to be seen. An astonishing 52pc of people know it is wrong to drive without a fully clear windscreen but fail to do anything about it.”

Common sense is, as they say, not so common, so perhaps a few basic points on driving in treacherous conditions are worth repeating. Stopping distances increase significantly on icy roads, and motorists are six times as likely to be involved in an accident in these conditions.

So check your lights, make sure your windscreen and windows are cleared properly, that your brakes are in good working order and that your tyres have a minimum of 3mm of tread. But above all leave plenty of distance between you and the car in front. This means you will avoid having to slam on the brakes if the driver ahead of you starts to skid. Keeping a good distance allows you to slow down safely and reduces your chances of getting involved in an accident with the driver ahead of you.

One startling statistic that emerged from the survey is that 40pc of respondents said they don’t bother to clean either their mirrors or their rear window before setting off in winter. And, believe it or not, 20pc of respondents admitted they used a credit card to clear the ice from their windscreens. Other findings include:

? 70pc never check tyre tread depth and fail to make sure tyres are roadworthy.

? 25pc don't check to see if their lights are working.

? One in four drivers admit they are not fully awake when they get behind the wheel, and that it takes them at least four minutes of driving time to wake up properly

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