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Over third of drivers brave snow regardless of the amount on the roads, RAC survey reveals

A survey conducted by the RAC has uncovered that a significant portion of UK drivers, nearly four-in-ten (39%), are undeterred by snowfall, choosing to drive regardless of the amount of snow on the roads.

This bold approach comes despite a concerning statistic: three-in-ten respondents admitted to losing control of their vehicle in snowy conditions, leading to frightening experiences.

The survey, which garnered responses from 2,300 drivers, arrives amidst meteorological advisories warning of snow and ice, expected to persist until at least Saturday. These findings shed light on the resilience—or perhaps recklessness—of drivers facing wintry hazards, with a substantial 68% continuing their vehicular journeys during yellow Met Office warnings. This figure dips slightly to 63% when faced with the more severe amber warnings, indicating a modest reduction in risk appetite as the threat level escalates.

Interestingly, a small but cautious segment of the driving population takes a more prudent stance. Approximately 9% of drivers opt to park their cars during yellow warnings, a proportion that more than doubles to 22% during amber alerts. Despite the apparent willingness of many to challenge the elements, a significant majority (75%) assert they adopt a more careful driving style under snowy conditions, with a mere 1% refusing to alter their habits.

In light of the current cold snap, the RAC has issued guidance to motorists, urging them to meticulously check their vehicles and adapt their driving techniques to safely navigate the treacherous conditions. The emphasis is on avoiding unnecessary risks that could jeopardise the safety of both drivers and passengers.

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Rod Dennis said: “We know from long-running RAC studies that the vast majority of drivers – a consistent eight-in-10 – are heavily reliant on their cars, something that’s exacerbated when the weather turns icy or snowy, especially if public transport is impacted and drivers have no choice but to use their cars for trips they consider essential. Doing so can carry huge risks however, and it’s vitally important drivers follow guidance from the Met Office and others accordingly whenever there is a warning for severe weather issued – especially if it is an amber or even rare red warning. Waiting until conditions improve might well be the safest and best course of action.

“If a driver has made the decision that it is safe to set out in snow and ice, it’s important drivers always check their cars and adjust their driving styles to cope with whatever wintry conditions are thrown at them. A car’s braking distance can increase by up to 10 times when there’s snow and ice on a road, meaning it’s vital to check all tyres have plenty of tread and slow down considerably to reduce the chances of a collision.

“Councils have an incredibly important part to play when it comes to preparing the roads during cold snaps, so it’s good to see a relatively small number of drivers rate their local authority’s gritting services as poor. On the other hand, drivers seem much less satisfied with their council’s ability to clear accumulations of snow, but fortunately that’s something that’s not needed very often across most of the UK.

“Come rain or shine, our patrols are out attending breakdowns and the fastest way to access help is by using the Rescue function on the myRAC app.”

Met Office spokesperson Stephen Dixon said: "It's vital people take precautions to stay safe in severe weather. Our weather warnings highlight when people could be impacted by the weather and there are a number of things people can do to minimise disruption, including checking travel plans, ensuring vehicles are safe as well as making sure your house is prepared for severe weather.

"Winter weather hazards like snow and ice can be particularly impactful on travel conditions, so it's always best to check the travel advice in your area before setting off on journeys when severe weather is in the forecast."


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