Survey: Motorists are putting their lives on the line

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Two thirds of British motorists putting their lives at risk on the roads this winter

Alarming research reveals that the majority of British motorists do not know what tread depth their tyres should be for safe motoring, putting themselves and all drivers on the roads at risk this festive season.

What’s more, 53.75 per cent of UK drivers are unaware what pressure their tyres should be.

The legal minimum for tyre tread in the UK is 1.6mm, however experts from the nationwide network of Unipart Car Care Centres, who conducted the research, advise a tyre tread of 3mm for winter driving conditions.

Despite the recent mild weather, motorists still need to take into account that a repeat of last winter is on its way and drivers need to be prepared for heavy snow, fog and widespread ice over the forthcoming winter months.

According to the Met Office, December 2010 was the coldest December in the UK since 1910 and this year’s predicted weather will be no different.

Unipart’s Car Care Centres, which polled 2000 men and women, revealed that a measly 12.85 per cent give their car a once over every few weeks.

Tim Ferris of Unipart says: “People do fear driving in the winter, but if motorists follow some simple guidelines about preparing a car for the winter months, the risk of serious incidents can be reduced.

“By just taking ten minutes every week to carry out simple checks, drivers can be more confident that their car is roadworthy and safe. This is particularly important in the winter as heavy rain, snow and icy patches on the road make driving more difficult.

“All cars need to be serviced regularly and in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s schedule to ensure that the vehicle is running safely. An independent garage such as a Unipart Car Care Centre can be significantly cheaper than a franchised dealer, saving motorists a considerable amount of money and making an annual service affordable.”

According to the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists), breakdowns are more common throughout the winter period and the rate of accidents amongst car users is 9.4 per cent higher from November to February. In addition, slippery roads contributed to 20,003 road casualties in 2010 resulting in 118 fatalities.

Blurred vision caused by rain, fog, sleet and snow contributed to 2,328 accidents, resulting in 3,318 casualties and 20 fatalities.

Experts from the nationwide network of Unipart Care Car Centres advise drivers that a few easy checks to their car ahead of their journey can increase the vehicle’s winter reliability and safeguard their safety...

l If your car is due for servicing, get it done before you embark on a long journey

l When de-icing the car, do not pour hot water onto the windscreen, as this may cause the windscreen to crack.

l To remove ice and frost from the windscreen, keep an ice scraper and de-icer in the car.

l Ensure your windscreen is ice and frost-free before you use your wiper blades to avoid damage.

l Make sure that anti-freeze is mixed to the right proportions in the cooling system and screen wash is topped up. Depending on the weather, different strengths will need to be used.

l It is illegal to drive a car without screen wash. ‘Washing’ a windscreen with plain water does not clean it to a high standard, as ingrained dirt will not be effectively removed.

l Demisting the inside of the windscreen is best done with a clean cloth or a de-mister pad. Using your hand will only leave grease smears, which can reduce the driver’s range of visibility.

l Check that all your light bulbs are working.

If your car does fail you:

l Try to stop the car as far away to the side of the road as possible.

l It is safer to leave the car rather than sit in it.

l If you choose to stay in the car and keep the engine running, make sure you open the window slightly.

l Make sure you and your car can be seen - keep your lights on.

l Keep a blanket, a bottle of water, non perishable food, flashlight and fully charged batteries in the car.

l Make sure that your mobile phone is charged before you embark on your journey and always tell someone where you are going and at what time you intend to arrive.