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Travel Carefully in the Spring Showers

4 May 2008

Now that lighter nights and spring have reached the Northern Hemisphere, and with meteorologists predicting changeable, cyclonic and unsettled weather in the coming weeks, road users are being urged to take extra care when travelling, especially in wet weather.

Government data suggests that a third of all fatal road crashes in the UK happen on wet or flooded roads, and 15% of all collisions – over 30,000 per annum – occur during rainy periods. Similarly, insurance data indicates that a significant proportion of fleet vehicle collisions also occur on wet roads.

Changeable weather, such as a heavy downpour, creates hazardous road conditions and reduces driver visibility. The danger is greatest on busy roads and motorways where large trucks can make the road conditions worse and significantly impair visibility.

April is a traditionally rainy month, characterised by sudden downpours of varying intensity followed by bursts of sunshine. This year, the changeable weather patterns are set to continue into May.

Interactive Driving Systems’ European Managing Director Andy Cuerden said: ‘The combination of sunshine and showers at this time of year spells real danger for drivers so it is vital they are well prepared and aware of the risks. Sunshine can reflect off water on the road and creates a distracting, visibility reducing glare. Before any trip it is important to be aware of the weather conditions and undertake appropriate vehicle checks.’

We are therefore issuing the following tips for driving this spring:

  • Expect and prepare for changeable weather conditions before you travel.
  • Be aware of stopping distances, which are twice as long in the wet – and follow the 4-second rule behind other vehicles to allow ample braking distance, prevent skids and avoid aquaplaning.
  • Maximise your field of vision by keeping the windscreen free of dirt, smears, ‘fuzzy dice’ and other distractions.
  • Check, and replace, worn and defective wiper blades; and check windscreens for chips that can cause distraction and reduce visibility.
  • Ensure that your screen wash is well supplied and working effectively.

Issuing a final word of concern, Cuerden warned: ‘Driving in heavy rain is very hazardous and can challenge even the most experienced drivers. People should respect the conditions, slow down and give themselves more time to see and react to hazards such as flooding, pedestrians and vehicles ahead. We are also urging our drivers to make sure they have more room between them and other vehicles to allow for loss of clear vision and any increase in the slipperiness of road surfaces.’