48% of car accidents in winter are due to cars skidding. When the temperature drops, roads become an ice rink in patches. Tyres lose grip and the surface of the road can become a danger risk if drivers are not in control.
The best advice many motor industry experts can give on avoiding skidding on icy roads is to switch to cold weather tyres. Winter tyres tend to have a more ‘aggressive’ grip with more cuts in the tread and biting edges that better grip the ground.
Industry adviser ‘Which?’ suggests that winter tyres work very well at temperatures under 7 degrees Celsius, adapting to wet and icy conditions by not only gripping better but by spreading the force of traction over a greater area, providing a more stable base.
When cars slide on the road, it is difficult for a driver to regain control. Other drivers in the area may also skid and slide if they need to take evasive action, potentially setting off a domino effect involving multiple cars. Even on a small residential street, a single car struggling to grip can risk injury for its owner and any passers by (see video below).
Not an excuse
Unfortunately as treacherous as ice and snow is on the road, causing damage or harm to another person because the road is icy is often not an excuse. When conditions are poor, it is expected that drivers adapt accordingly to the road surface. This means hanging further back than normal, driving slower and paying particular attention to your surroundings. By not adhering to this you may be seen as acting negligently should you collide with another vehicle or person.
Government guidelines suggest not travelling in snow and ice if possible. It is not illegal but heavily advised. Should you travel on wet, icy roads the guidelines are to keep a large distance from any vehicle in front, not to make any sharp movements and to drive “at slow speed in as high a gear as possible” to keep control.
What If I’m Hurt?
Icy roads escalate the risks of collisions. It also poses a serious risk to pedestrians as an icy pavement can make walking at the roadside treacherous.
If you, a family member or friend have found yourself injured during these conditions, contact Sincere Law to see what our experts can do for you. We deal in serious injuries and understand winter is a particularly high risk time of year for these.
We are experienced at arranging the extra care and attention required to help recover from serious injury problems. Recovery can take months or years to overcome, but we will be there every step of the way.
To chat to one of our advisers for free, impartial, conscientious advice please call 0800 092 2896 (lines open weekdays from 9am to 7pm) for more details. Alternatively you can get in touch using our contact form on our website.
You may have noticed on TV and in print adverts recently that new methods of combating drug driving have come into force. With the aim of reducing the risk of collisions from impaired driving, the new “swab” is designed to detect a number of chemicals in the body which can identify a drug driver. Is it the best deterrent of drug driving yet? Or will it just serve to pick up more roadside fines?
Under The Influence
Drug driving is now considered to be the same as drink driving when it comes to offences behind the wheel. Both now carry the same penalties.
According to the government driving safety organisation, THINK!, penalties for being caught drug driving include a minimum of a 12 month driving ban, the potential of up to 6 months imprisonment, unlimited fines and a criminal record.
Unashamedly, gov.co.uk promotes other side effects of being convicted for drug driving as potentially losing your job, having trouble finding new employment, increased car insurance costs and even face rejection when wanting to enter countries such as the USA and Canada.
(The new drug driving PSA from THINK!)
A Needle in a Haystack
Previously, police were reduced to using basic roadside impairment tests to catch drug drivers. These tests included walking in a straight line, standing on one leg and checking for dilated pupils. This made it difficult to enforce, as passing the tests gave police little choice but to warn the driver and continue their journey. Simply suspecting a motorist would not have been enough to warrant an arrest.
The new drug driving swab means that the police are able to use a saliva sample to test for cocaine or cannabis within 6 minutes. This can be done at the roadside or alternatively, the swab can also be sent to a test lab for further readings of substances on the prohibited list. Even if a driver doesn’t show for either of the two on the swab, showing signs of impairment now give the police the right to arrest and prosecute, pending evidence from further testing.
The new measures have helped increase the arrest rate of drug drivers reportedly by as much as 800% by some local constabularies. Proving a driver to be impaired by drugs was once a difficult task for police; but thanks to the swab, that task has become very straightforward.
When looking at the new swab from a personal injury Solicitor’s viewpoint; Sincere Law believes the initiative can help reduce accidents caused by drug drivers and therefore protect innocent road users from suffering catastrophic injury at the hands of irresponsible drivers who are under the influence.
Sincere Law’s catastrophic injury Partner Chris Walker weighed in on the subject, stating “Any way of deterring drug drivers from taking the risk of going out on the road while impaired is something we support. We often see claims from clients who have been seriously injured at the hands of impaired drivers, both under the influence of drink and drugs so we welcome the initiative and hope to see positive trends for collisions and accidents relating to drug driving as a result.”
Are swabs the way forward to make the roads safer? We scoured Twitter to find out your opinion on the new procedures.
The new drug driving advert is actually quite threatening
The biggest fear for UK motorists during the cold winter months and heavy snowfall is the possibility of driving over black ice. The dangers of losing control over a surface with no grip are very serious. However, there are methods to help keep you on the road and prevent road traffic accidents during the colder months.
What Is Black Ice?
Whether rain falls as sleet or freezing rain, depends heavily on the temperature of the air just above ground level. If the temperature is already around freezing or just above, there is no heat in the air to stop the rain from freezing while travelling to the ground. This type of rainfall becomes hailstone and while hail can stick and form ice on the road, it often retains its colour and becomes visible ice, allowing road users to be aware while driving over it.
What becomes black ice is rainfall that passes through a layer of warm air on its way to the ground. Because of the warm air keeping it from freezing, it remains a liquid before hitting the ground and freezes upon impact. As the rain is still a liquid it will disperse over a larger surface area while freezing. This large area of freezing usually remains clear, containing no air bubbles, blending into the road surface, giving very little sign, other than a slight sheen, that the road has an extra layer sitting on top. The reason for it being labelled “black ice” is usually down to the fact it camouflages itself on the road surface by remaining clear.
Popular advice when driving on ice is to drive slowly and avoid losing grip. The way in which black ice freezes as a flat sheet over the road has the potential to turn tarmac into a sheet, as though the driver has their vehicle on glass. Even winter tyres can struggle to gain grip on these kinds of surfaces and because of this we would heavily advise to think about the necessity of a journey before setting out.
(Top tips for driving safely on ice)
Driving Safely With Black Ice
Black ice can’t always be accounted for on your journey. It’s the very essence of it, it is invisible. Local weather reports may give you an indication of ice on the roads; you’ll also be hoping that your local council has taken action and gritted the vast majority of roads on freezing nights, leaving only smaller side streets. As much as this usually resolves 99% of problems driving on ice, there is always the chance that part of your route has been missed. When ice has set in overnight, always assume you will encounter some. It’s much easier to be safe when it comes to road safety in the winter.
If you fall foul of black ice on the road, the chances are you may experience unwanted loss of traction and potentially spin out of control in the worst case. There are, however, a few safe driving tips to employ, should you find yourself on ice and needing to stay calm and in control at the wheel.
Time is definitely NOT of the essence
At any other time of year we can do our best to make meeting times and get to our destinations in good time. Icy weather is definitely a period in which driving slowly, despite the risks of running late, must be the priority. Other road users will be aware of ice on the road and are likely to keep a safe distance, also watching their speed. The last thing other drivers want is to skid and head into the back of your vehicle. Do not be afraid to take it steady and travel at 10mph if necessary or even less should the road surface prove particularly tricky ahead.
Reduce speed before slopes
When you come to the precipice of a down slope, this is a critical moment for keeping control downhill. Going too fast when hitting ice while travelling downhill could easily result in sliding and gaining too much speed to regain control before the bottom. With black ice being very difficult to spot it’s usually best not to drive at all. If there is no other choice, going slow, steady and keeping a level head (unlike the video below) is your highest chance of keeping in control.
(Abandoning your car is not the right response to slipping on ice)
Don’t allow speed to build
Consistent speed can help avoid unwanted slipping and grip issues on any area of road. The power being output into the wheels can keep a car steady, whereas accelerating on ice of any kind can generate wheel spin, car spins and more of an increase in speed over a slippery surface than you would want, which will affect overall control. Keeping a consistent speed on a down slope may be difficult at times, but a gentle foot on the brakes can help avoid skidding and spinning out.
Bravery when sliding
Should you feel your car begin to slide and turn away from your path, you may need to take the brave step of releasing the brake pedal and regaining control going forward. Locking out the front wheels can cause the car to continue going straight, which, if already misaligned, could cause you to veer off the road. Likewise, locking out the back wheels with the handbrake can cause the car to spin out and be a hazard to road users behind it.
Be alert, be aware, and be safe
When it comes to driving on an icy road, whether visible or black ice, we would recommend (along with other experts) that unless it’s unavoidable, don’t take the risk. It never requires a large catalyst to result in a car losing control on the road, no-matter how good the driver is behind the wheel. Treacherous roads are an understandable downfall to our country’s climate and family, managers and friends will all know this. If it’s better not to drive, come up with an alternative.
If there is no other choice, driving slowly and keeping the car on course are key. Usage of breaks should be to help assist with the path of the car, rather than an instant fix for veering off course; that could result in some serious damage to your car, yourself, other cars, property, cyclists and even pedestrians nearby. There is no such thing as going too slow after a night of freezing rainfall. Protect yourself, your vehicle and everybody around you by setting the example and keeping yourself in safe hands on the road.
What if somebody hits me?
If you happen to suffer an incident in the icy conditions and fall victim to an accident at the hands of somebody else, as a driver, cyclist, pedestrian or passenger, then you do have options to help get past any damages caused. Road traffic accidents in the winter on ice can escalate from what would be very minor bumps and scrapes, into serious incidents because of the lack of control.
Collisions in the winter months can not only cause excess, unnecessary damage but the cost of the damage both financially and physically can wreak havoc on carefully laid plans during the holiday season. If you do happen to suffer in an incident, Sincere Law is available to help deal with serious injury claims as a result of a road traffic accident on icy roads. We are available to contact every day from 8am to 9pm via phone on 0800 092 2896, by email at [email protected] or by filling in our contact form here on our website.
We’ve assisted clients up and down the UK for the last 24 years in the serious injury sector. Inside our headquarters we have assembled a large team of the top UK Solicitors each with their own extensive background. With so many professional resources available, your best choice in serious injury law is Sincere Law.
Great news for road traffic accident prevention! Google Maps has recently released an update that now audibly tells drivers when they are approaching congestion, giving them the knowledge without needing to take their eyes off the road.
Seamless Journeys, Safer Journeys
Spoken traffic alerts are the latest innovation to hit smartphones by Google. With the ability now to automatically hear traffic updates along your route, you will not only be on top of your journey, but will also be much safer having not being required to pick up the phone whilst driving.
With smartphone injuries up 43% in 2015, the lure of staring at a screen has become too much for many Brits, who now see themselves falling victim to avoidable accidents like walking into obstructions (43% of people admitted walking into something).
With the introduction of audible updates on all smartphone devices, the new feature could go a long way to addressing the growing concerns about driver and pedestrian safety at the hands of distractions like phones.
Having been banned since 2003, mobile phone use while driving is still unfortunately a common cause of road traffic accidents over the last decade, with offenders not always easy to spot by police given the sometimes discreet nature of texting below the door line.
The new app will eradicate previous faults, which include having to look for new routes while driving into traffic, as an update of traffic on your route will be described before you set off, enabling you to change routes before leaving your house. You will also receive updates as soon as congestion develops, giving you time to choose a new route or simply be aware that you will need to slow down as you approach queues.
The dangers of texting while driving
A practical Approach
Sincere Law feel that while the initial innovation of the app was to give road users more warning and more choice when commuting, we are pleased to see a company like Google take a proactive approach in reducing accidents, as a result of distracted driving.
Driver error causes 90% of accidents, with mobile phone use being a large percentage of that. With phones consistently evolving and giving us more applications and uses, it could be easy to become carried away and allow the different distractions a mobile can offer to affect driving.
The urge to find a particular album or playlist on your iPhone library, or check out how your village is getting along in Clash of Clans, while only taking a few seconds to accomplish, can prove fatal. Sincere Law Senior Partner David Byrne spoke to us about the update; stating:
“With so many uses for a smartphone nowadays it is such an easy distraction. The user can potentially think ‘it won’t happen to me’ that they could lose control while using a device. Unfortunately it does happen and it can destroy lives, this new feature will go a long way to fighting that. Congestion can lead to stress and to more accidents, alleviating this is a major step towards reduction in road traffic accidents from distraction, stress and poor driving decisions”.
With over 23 years of experience and an entire team of Road Traffic Accident specialists, Sincere Law knows what the impact of an accident can be and what is needed to begin the healing process for all affected.
The process can affect families, an individual’s whole life (physically and psychologically) and also cause considerable damage to their own property, such as their car, motorcycle or bike.
These cases can be sensitive and require careful consideration as to what steps to take. This is something we’re well versed in. We have made it our pledge to conduct all claims under a ‘No Win No Fee’ basis, providing an upfront and honest account has been given, in order to reduce stress and eliminate any risk for those that have already suffered so much.
To get free, impartial advice from one of our team of experts, you can get in touch via either filling out our contact form here, by emailing us at [email protected] and giving the relevant details, or by calling us when convenient for you (we’re open every day from 8am – 9pm) on 0800 092 2896.
We’re always ready to advise you on the best course of action and will always be honest about what we can do for you. If you have suffered at the hands of a negligent driver, begin your claim today. Remember, claiming compensation is your best way of ensuring the guilty party comes to justice.
If you are a driver and use Google maps to get about, we encourage you to update your app and make good use of the new innovation today!
Last week we gave you part 1 of “safety on the school run”. That article focused on how to best stay safe as a pedestrian walking to school with an emphasis on being aware of vehicles and your child at all times. The second of our two part blog offers the top tips for when you are actually on the road and behind the wheel.
500m danger zone
Back in 2013, research facility “Road Safety Analysis” and AXA insurance helped spearhead a report that pointed to the danger of road accidents within 500m of the school gates. Statistics coming from the report indicate that in 37% of UK school boroughs, an average of 1 child per year was involved in a road traffic accident within the 500m radius around a school.
The study was conducted between 2006 and 2011 with the total number of accidents within 500m to be 85,814, averaging 1,190 per month. Alongside injuries the inquest also dealt with the number of vehicle collisions totalling 557,200 in the same time period, equating to an average of 6 collisions per school per year!
School run etiquette
In the UK there are multiple organisations supporting road safety, all of which offer tips and reminders to drive responsibly around your local schools (such as the National Safety Council). We have however compiled our own top 6 tips to help keep yourself, your child and everybody else’s children safe during the daily drive to school.
1. Make it leisurely
Your time in a morning is precious. Running a household is no easy task, making sure the pets are fed, the youngsters are well nourished, clothed and packed; securing the house before leaving and making sure you have all of your own materials alongside the kids’ is quite an achievement once completed. It can be very easy to be dragged into a race to the gates by unforeseen problems cropping up in a morning. With that in mind, as easy to say but hard to implement as it is, doing everything 5 minutes earlier and leaving the house a little sooner than usual to could make all the difference to your journey. A relaxed driver is a vigilant driver; rushing increases risk of reduced attention span and in turn increases the risk of not spotting a stray child or the car in front breaking suddenly. Turn the race against time into a leisurely, pleasant drive.
2. No cruise control
You know the route, you know where the shortcuts are, and exactly how long to the millisecond the morning run takes. However, letting that knowledge pilot you from home to school heightens the risk of cruise control setting in and could lower awareness of your immediate surroundings. Driver error causes on average 67.5% of road traffic accidents, accounting for 65% of all fatal road traffic accidents and 61% of serious traffic accidents. Driver error includes the following instances:
Failing to look properly
Failing to judge other people’s path or speed
Being careless, reckless or in a hurry
Loss of control
Poor turning or manoeuvring
Travelling too fast for the conditions
Not accounting for a slippery road due to weather
With so many factors contributing to driver error, it’s important you are aware at all times. Hazard perception is an integral part of safe driving, not just spotting oncoming pedestrians but judging speeds and distances, making note of how the weather affects the journey and driving smoothly all add to a safe, comfortable drive.
3. Speed kills
A sentiment heavily pushed with the assistance of public service films on our television screens and on posters over the years (See “its 30mph for a reason” video below). It is without question that speeding is dangerous regardless of where you do it, but add that to a school environment; parked cars, public transport, pedestrians and unpredictable children added to the mix, there is potential for serious harm with a collision of any kind. It’s tempting to sneak extra speed into a drive if you are worried about timing, but the risk of a life against turning up 1 or 2 minutes later than normal is a trade off not worth making.
4. Every child is your child
The best selling book in the world states a simple line within it that a famous man once said. He told us “do unto others as you would have them do to you”. Very philosophical words for a blog about taking the children to school; but one which is very appropriate. As the quote suggests, you should treat every child, every parent walking hand in hand with their little one, as you and your own. If you were in their position and they were driving in your vicinity, you would very much hope they were careful, courteous drivers; and with that in mind you should be the same back to them.
5. Make eye contact
When establishing a relationship we are advised to make lots of eye contact. It builds trust, creates a rapport and lets us make lots of nonverbal communication. Simply connecting eye to eye allows two people to acknowledge they are both aware of a situation, be it two people looking across a dinner table on a date, friends exchanging an “in joke” via a quick glance at each other, or, importantly in this case, a pedestrian and driver acknowledging they are there and want to use the road safely. It can be a quick, efficient way of determining another road user’s intention. For the ability to judge when to slow down and stop, a simple glance towards one another can be a life saver.
6. Park safe
When it finally comes time to pulling up and either letting your child jump out or stopping and walking the final few steps with them, remember to park in a spot that will not cause problems for other road users. Nobody likes poor parking, but the feeling is even worse should a parked car obstruct traffic in any way, make it difficult to manoeuvre around or obstruct the view of pedestrians looking to cross the road. As with point 4, you would likely not appreciate a bad example of parking, so make sure you are not that example. Good parking etiquette includes:
Using designated bays
Parking on roadsides that do not contain double yellow lines
Giving enough room on both the road and pavement
Only opening doors when it is safe
Indicating to pull over and park in good time
Follow the simple steps and your final drop off will be stress free, safe and carry the least risk for all involved.
Be the shining example
Using this two part article, allow yourself to be the example setter. It’s very easy to slip into routines and into autopilot during tasks you do every single day. With the school run, as a pedestrian or driver, consider not only your child’s safety, but that of your fellow parent’s. If you show them the extended courtesy of being a mindful pedestrian, or a careful driver, it can spread to others and keep our schools, and our children, safe. Sincere Law has come across many cases relating to accidents around schools in the past, we would definitely like to see the number of children’s cases drop.
If your family has however suffered on the school run in an accident that wasn’t your fault, see what we can do for you. We offer free, impartial advice and expert guidance on how to deal with injuries to children. To get a free, confidential call from one of our solicitors, contact us here or call us on 0800 092 2896. All of our solicitors works on a no win, no fee basis, giving you no risk to starting your claim today.