23rd December 2020
How to drive safely on icy rural roads
The UK’s leading rural insurer is advising motorists on how drive safely on dangerous icy country roads.
According to NFU Mutual’s motor claims data, ice was the cause for more than two thirds of its winter weather accidents last Winter* (70%) and dazzling low sun contributed to a quarter (26%).
The insurer also asked more than 2,000 motorists** what they most feared on the roads and poor road conditions such as ice came up as the top anxiety-inducing concern, troubling exactly half (50%) of the nation’s drivers.
Zoe Hanson, Motor Claims Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “Icy country roads are extremely challenging for even the most experienced drivers, and rural accidents are common where roads aren’t gritted and it’s easy to lose control of the vehicle.
“Even if you think a frost has thawed, bendy country lanes with high hedgerows, trees, gates, or bridges which block the sun are often the first areas to freeze and take longer to thaw, creating patches of ice which thaw at different rates. Be mindful of hardened black ice, which can be left over after heavy snowfall and is invisible to the eye both day and night.
“Clear skies and the low sun can easily dazzle drivers, particularly where the sun reflects off a wet or icy road surface. This is more of a risk than fog or mist, as country lanes with intermittent trees catch motorists out, and sun visors can’t really help. The best recommendation is to slow down. A blind corner vs. dazzling sunlight and an oncoming vehicle is a recipe for disaster.
“If you live rurally and need to drive, stay in as high as gear as possible - alongside keeping your revs low, this reduces the chance of spinning your wheels and losing control. Remember it takes ten times longer to stop in icy conditions so give yourself and other drivers more space to cope.”
Only 1 in 5 motorists surveyed by NFU Mutual** knew that it takes 10 times as long to stop in icy conditions, a figure lowest in the North East at less than one in ten drivers (9%).
NFU Mutual’s top ten tips to maintain control of your vehicle in ice:
- It takes ten times longer to stop in icy conditions. Give yourself and other drivers more space to cope with stopping distances and lower visibility
- Stay in as high as gear as possible on slippery roads — alongside keeping your revs low, this reduces the chance of spinning your wheels and losing control
- Don't use cruise control — slippery surfaces such as ice and snow can cause your tyres to lose traction and spin, cruise control can make it harder to register and negotiate this happening
- Be aware of specific conditions — even if you think a frost has thawed, areas such as roads under bridges and those shielded by hedgerows, fences and trees are often the first to freeze and take longer to thaw
- If the sun is low and the roads are wet or icy they could dazzle you, so slow down. A blind corner vs. dazzling sunlight and an oncoming vehicle is a recipe for disaster
- Keep windows clean and clear before you set off to avoid glare and condensation
- Consider getting winter tyres, designed to help you to grip the road in cold and wet weather as well as ice
- Plan your journey ahead and take enough time so you’re not under pressure. You can set your sat nav or route to avoid rural roads that are prone to black ice
- Check your car - including tyre pressure and tread depth, windscreen wipers and wash, antifreeze, fuel, lights, brakes, and oil
- Write down the number of your insurance and breakdown provider in case you lose mobile reception in rural areas
For more winter driving tips in a variety of winter conditions, visit: www.nfumutual.co.uk/drivingconfidence
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Notes to editor:
*Between November 2019 and February 2020
**An online survey was conducted by Atomik Research among 2,003 adults aged 18+ in the UK who drive. The research fieldwork took place on 23 – 25 October, 2020. Atomik Research is an independent creative market research agency that employs MRS-certified researchers and abides to MRS code.
For further information, please contact:
Jade Devlin, Senior Press Officer
Tel: 07967 698376