Rural road safety campaigner issues safe driving advice as ice and snow could cause treacherous conditions

As snow and ice once again threaten to wreak havoc on British roads, leading rural insurer and rural road safety campaigner NFU Mutual is sharing safe driving advice for motorists.

Freezing weather conditions in December saw thousands of accidents and breakdowns and resulted in the busiest day of the year for motor insurance claims coming into NFU Mutual.

With the Met Office issuing alerts for snow and ice in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and throughout the Southern and Western parts of England, the leading rural insurer is preparing for another spike in claims.

NFU Mutual is also offering advice for those needing to drive in the dangerous conditions and urging motorists to take action to avoid endangering themselves and their vehicles.

Dave Rossall, Head of Motor Claims at NFU Mutual, said:

“The last wave of freezing weather led to the busiest day of 2022 for motor insurance claims to NFU Mutual, and we’re on hand to help motorists if we see something similar this week. However, the best way to avoid disruption and injury is to make adjustments for the extreme weather.

“Driving in icy and snowy weather requires an entirely different set of skills that we rarely practice in the UK, so it’s vital that motorists pay extra attention to safe driving in the next few days.

“Compacted snow, black ice and low winter sun can all combine to create a perfect storm of low visibility and reduced control of the vehicle, which is where we see a lot of accidents.

“Our advice would be to avoid driving in severe weather if it is not absolutely necessary to do so, and if you do need to drive, leave extra time for your journey and plan your route to remain on main roads as much as possible.

“You should also prepare for freezing weather, making sure you have winter-ready screen wash, de-icer, an ice scraper and sunglasses to combat low winter sun, as well as packing some spare warm clothes, a blanket, a charged phone and torch, and some water and snacks in case you do get stuck.

“While driving, take into account the dangerous conditions and adjust accordingly, leaving more space than you usually would between fellow motorists or other road users and braking and accelerating as smoothly as you can. This will reduce wheel spin or drifting, keeping you, your passengers and fellow road users safe.

“As a campaigner for rural road safety, NFU Mutual is particularly concerned that the icy weather will make our rural roads, which are already significantly more deadly than urban roads, even more treacherous. It is therefore more important than ever that road users respect their fellow road users, take their journey steadily and make sure they are slowing down well before junctions and corners.”

NFU Mutual’s tips for driving in the snow and ice

Before setting off

  • Avoid using your vehicle unless you have to. If a trip can be put off until a safer time, it is best to do so.
  • Plan your journey before you leave, checking weather forecasts for badly hit areas and making sure your route sticks to main roads as much as possible.
  • Pack your car with winter-ready screen wash, de-icer, an ice scraper and sunglasses to combat low winter sun.
  • Prepare for the possibility of getting stuck, packing some spare warm clothes, a blanket, a charged mobile phone and torch, and some water and snacks.
  • Tell family and friends where you are going and when you expect to arrive.
  • Ensure your vehicle’s wiper fluid is topped up.
  • Ensure your vehicle’s tires are at the correct pressure.
  • Make sure your headlights and foglights are working and you know how to operate them.
  • Thoroughly de-ice and de-fog windows and remove snow from the roof of the vehicle.

While driving

  • Drive slowly and steadily and leave larger gaps between vehicles. Icy conditions can increase stopping distances by ten times.
  • Avoid braking suddenly, slowing down gently before corners and junctions.
  • Accelerate slowly, keeping revs low to avoid wheelspin.
  • Drive in as high a gear as possible to avoid wheelspin.
  • Take care coming up to junctions where road markings may be covered by snow or frost.
  • Don’t use cruise control in icy or snowy conditions.