New research from Sainsbury's car insurance suggests that 13.7 million drivers are not aware of what to do if their car goes into a skid and worryingly, over a quarter (27%) of drivers who find themselves in a skid would take remedial action that would make their situation worse.
The supermarket bank estimates that around 264,000 accidents(1) could be caused this year by icy roads, with the research showing that 1.3 million drivers have had an accident in icy conditions in the past five years, with their average repair bill costing £1,773 to fix.
Icy conditions are clearly a major headache for drivers, with 22% saying they only venture out in an emergency when it’s icy, and 7% saying they won’t drive at all. The figure rises even higher for women, with more than a third (38%) saying they will either not drive at all or only drive in an emergency when it’s icy compared to 20% of men.
Ben Tyte, Head of Sainsbury's car insurance said: "Everyone knows that driving in wintery weather can be hazardous but our study shows that a staggering number of drivers do not know how to handle their vehicles in icy conditions.
"It's important to drive even more safely and be extra vigilant and with another icy winter reportedly on its way we would encourage all drivers to make sure they know the correct way to handle their vehicle in slippery conditions."
The research also reveals that drivers in London and the south west are most cautious in winter weather, with 40% of Londoners and 31% of those in the South West saying they would not drive at all in icy conditions or would only drive in an emergency.
Those in the west midlands (21%) and Wales (23%) were least cautious, saying they would not drive in icy conditions or saying they would only drive in an emergency.
To illustrate the scale of the problem, Sainsbury’s car insurance conducted an experiment in which 12 drivers were taken to a skid-pan and tested on their winter driving abilities, including being tasked to drive in simulated winter driving conditions on a specialist track without any tuition. They were then taught how to control a car in a skid and re-tested.
The experiment found that 50% were unable to safely control the car in a skid prior to getting winter driving tuition, while afterwards 91% of drivers were able to safely control the skid.
Safe Driving Tips:
- Feeling the car slide can be very scary - if roads are icy reduce your speed and join major routes as soon as possible
-Skidding can be a big fear but driving slowly can prevent it - don't brake or accelerate hastily, drop gears before applying brakes
If you do skid -
- Lift your foot gently off the accelerator. This will allow your car to slow smoothly and gently
- If you need to continue driving then do so slowly using a high gear. This will help you avoid hard acceleration, which could spin the wheels
- If there is no response when you turn the steering wheel and the car continues on ahead remove your foot from the accelerator. This throws the weight balance of the car forwards and helps the tyres find grip
- Take care on motorways and dual carriageways - don't let other drivers influence your speed and don't hug the car in front
- Take extra care around large vehicles which may not see you
- Give motorcyclists and cyclists plenty of room
- If you get stuck in ice or snow make sure your handbrake brake is on - clear the area around the wheels and apply grit or salt around the slipping wheel - use low revs to gently move away. Taking off in second gear can provide more traction.