Car insurance provider Esure has warned motorists that driving in the winter months is substantially more likely to result in accidents. According to statistics the accident rate increases by 31% in winter, a rise that is due to reduced daylight and inadequately gritted roads. This has been particularly pronounced in the opening months of this year, when icy conditions and high winds swept all parts of the nation.
20% of drivers polled had been involved in an accident because of icy roads whilst 63% complained that gritting is not carried out frequently enough. And it is not just in transit that problems occur; 42% said that they had been forced to stay indoors as roads were not safe enough to drive on.
Mike Pickard, Head of Risk and Underwriting at Esure, emphasised the importance of safety over convenience: ?It is of the utmost importance to be aware of road safety during the winter months and to judge carefully when it is safe to drive ? if you feel it?s unsafe? then leave your car at home and take public transport instead.?
But the threat of accidents is not the only danger on the roads during winter. Police across the country are reporting an ever-increasing number of ?frosting? incidents. This is a form of car crime where ?Jack Frost? thieves steal a vehicle that is unattended due to the driver warming up the engine. It is a far more common crime that might be imagined with 66,000 victims every year. Joanne Mallon, car insurance manager at Sainsbury?s bank, said: ?When it's freezing outside it can be tempting to leave the engine running to speed up the defrosting process while you nip back inside to get ready. But this can have terrible consequences if your car gets stolen.?
And the car insurance companies are unlikely to be sympathetic either, as by leaving the vehicle unattended the driver is deemed to have failed in their ?duty of care.? The message being spread by both police and insurers is to make sure that the keys are never left in the car?s ignition even when the vehicle is defrosting on the owner?s driveway. Edmund King, executive director of the RAC foundation stated: ?Your car keys are the weakest link in the car security chain so never give the car criminal the chance to steal your keys. Never leave your keys in the car when filling up with petrol or when defrosting the car.?
However, Adrian Webb, communications manager at Esure, is anxious not to discourage motorists from defrosting their windscreens: ?If you merely clear a small hole to peer through the windscreen you are more likely to have an accident, and cause serious injury or even kill somebody.? Once again any claim made due to a poorly defrosted windscreen is likely to fall on deaf ears as the driver has failed in their duty to drive with all-round visibility. Webb also advises against more traditional methods of defrosting windscreens: ?Windscreen technology has improved in recent years making this less likely, but pouring hot water on a cold windscreen isn't the wisest thing to do.?