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Drivers warned stopping distances will DOUBLE during winter months

Updated: Dec 14, 2022



Drivers have been warned that stopping distances will be at least double during the winter months posing a serious threat to all road users. Motoring experts at LeaseCar.uk have urged motorists to follow six simple steps when driving in wet and icy conditions to reduce the risk of accidents from occurring.

October to January are typically the coldest, wettest months in the UK and motorists should be aware that the highway code advises drivers to drive according to the road conditions as tyres will have less traction in wet and icy conditions.

Drivers can more easily feel the lack of grip in the ice and snow, but modern car tyres will grip the road effectively in the wet until they lose grip under hard braking often taking drivers by surprise. Stopping distances are worked out by adding the thinking distance and the braking distance, which can vary depending on the road conditions and the condition of the car.

At 60mph total stopping distance is around 75 metres but in the wet this doubles to 150m - approximately the height of the Blackpool Tower. Checking parts of the vehicle such as the condition of the brakes and tyres can help reduce stopping distances while managing the space to the car in front will make sure drivers have room to stop safely. A spokesperson from LeaseCar.uk said: “It’s important for drivers to be aware that stopping distances will at least double in the wet and can be even greater in the snow and ice. “As we experience some of the worst road conditions of the year in the UK it’s vital that motorists manage their speed and distance to the car in front to prevent any serious accidents. “Motorists only need to visualise the height of the Blackpool Tower to better understand the distance they will need to safely stop their vehicle during the winter months. “Drivers should regularly check the condition of their vehicle paying particular attention to the brakes and depth of tyre tread as stopping distances will increase significantly if either are in poor condition.” Here are the six simple measures drivers should take to reduce the risk of having an accident in the cold and wet as recommended by LeaseCar.uk:

1 Monitor tyre tread

Not only do stopping distances double in the wet, but threadbare tyres will grip the road even less meaning even greater distances before drivers can safely stop their vehicles. Tyre tread can easily harden in cold weather which can lead to further loss of control.

2 Regularly check brake condition If you’re noticing a delay in the car slowing after pressing the brake pedal there’s a high chance that the car has worn brake pads or the brakes have developed a fault. In the wet it’s crucial that the brakes work as they should otherwise already large stopping distances increase further.

3 Manage the distance to the car in front

One good guide to follow is the two-second rule in the dry which involves picking a stationary object by the side of the road and counting the seconds between the car in front passing the object and you passing it. In the dry two seconds is the minimum time recommended. In the wet this increases to four seconds. If you are within four seconds in the wet, then give yourself more space to brake safely.

4 Cautious driving Wet and icy conditions means less grip on the road. Driving at slower speeds and braking in a controlled way will help keep the car balanced in the wet and you in control. It’s also best to not press too hard on the accelerator to prevent the likelihood of the car skidding and the wheels from spinning on the wet tarmac.

5 Check headlights are working One of the most important checks to make is ensuring the headlights are in full working order. During the darker months having faulty lights can make it more difficult to calculate a safe stopping distance to the car in front.

6 Take regular breaks With the weather getting darker earlier during the winter months driving requires greater levels of concentration and can be more draining. It’s important to regularly rest at services to keep energised while driving as tiredness can increase the chances of an accident due to delayed reaction times.

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