Drivers are taking life threatening risks

Almost three quarters of drivers take life-threatening risks on icy roads.

Seven in ten (71 per cent) drivers surveyed have dangerously poor knowledge when it comes to winter stopping distances

Two thirds (66 per cent) of drivers believe others do not leave enough space to stop safely

More than half of drivers questioned (54 per cent) think other drivers travel too fast in poor weather conditions

As the weather is forecast to turn colder and snow predicted in many parts of the UK next week, a new study is highlighting the risks too many drivers are taking in bad weather. The survey released today, (January 8th 2016 ) carried out on behalf of Brake and Direct Line, reveals 71 per cent of drivers questioned do not know how much longer it will take their vehicle to stop in icy conditions. This means they could be putting other road users, and themselves, at risk by under-estimating the distance.

11 per cent of drivers think the stopping distance is twice as long in icy weather, a third think it’s four times as long and 27 per cent think it should be five times as long. Just 23 per cent of drivers know that the actual figure is up to ten times as long, with six per cent being even more cautious and believing it is up to 20 times as long. That means, while on a fine day, if you are driving at 30 mph and need to brake immediately it will take you 23 metres to stop, in icy conditions it could take up to 230 metres - that’s the length of two-full size football pitches [i]and, of course, the faster you are travelling, the further that distance could be.

Many drivers also do not know enough about stopping distances in wet weather.

More than one in five drivers (22 per cent) fail to check the gap between their car and the car in front, and another fifth (21 per cent) do not leave a large enough gap, meaning that, if they have to brake suddenly, it could lead to a serious crash. Brake recommends that drivers leave at least four seconds between their vehicle and the vehicle in front in wet weather.

More than half of drivers questioned (54 per cent) think that other drivers travel too fast in poor weather conditions, and two thirds (66 per cent) believe other drivers do not leave enough space to stop.

Gary Rae, campaigns and communications director for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Our roads are at their most dangerous during the winter months, so drivers must be at their most cautious. We don’t want any more families to be torn apart by crashes caused by drivers not adapting to the conditions. Ice, snow, heavy rain and fog make driving incredibly risky; stopping distances double in wet weather and can increase up to ten-fold.”