A third of drivers are ignoring red weather warnings for snow

Two cars in the heavy snow on a road in North Yorkshire.

Do UK drivers abide by weather warnings? If you think the answer is yes, you’ll be surprised to know you’re wrong.

According to a recent study, a third of drivers would ignore the most severe weather warning for snow, despite the risk they could be putting themselves and others in.

Risking lives

An AA poll of over 12,000 motorists found 33% of drivers would ignore the highest red warning for snow and still get behind the wheel, while 62% admit they would drive when there’s been an amber warning issued.

Meanwhile, just over half of drivers (51%) would ignore the highest warnings for sleet and take the plunge by heading onto the roads.

Driving in wintery conditions could be dangerous for many – between 2017 and 2022, 487 road users were killed or seriously injured in road accidents in the snow.

Official Department for Transport figures also show that 70 people were killed or seriously injured on snow-hit roads in 2022, the third highest since 2017.

Avoid common mistakes this winter

An Aviva poll of over 2000 British motorists, found that drivers are falling into bad habits when they get behind the wheel during the coldest months of the year.

More than a quarter (28%) leave their cars running to de-ice screens and make their vehicle vulnerable to thieves.

Older generations are more likely to take the risk, with more than a third of over 65s saying they leave their car’s engine running for a clearer view of the road compared to 17% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 24% of 25- to 34-year-olds.

Martin Smith, motor claims manager at Aviva, says all drivers have a “legal responsibility to ensure their vehicle is in a roadworthy condition”.

“While we all want to get to our next destination as quickly as possible, it pays to be safe, particularly as the risk of an accident typically increases during the winter months.

“Spending five or ten minutes to prepare your car means that not only are you more likely to avoid an accident, but also a hefty fine – which can be as much as £1,000 – points on your licence or even a driving ban in the worst-case scenario.”

He adds: “If you do leave the engine running to de-ice your car, be sure to remain in your vehicle at all times. Failing to do so means that you may not be able to make a claim on your insurance in the event that your vehicle is unfortunately stolen.”

Driving far this winter? Keep your car in good condition by carrying out winter car checks.

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