For drivers in parts of the country who can even consider taking out the car, it’s time to dig the scraper out of the dashboard pocket, pick the dog hairs off it and clear your windscreen. Oh yes and your rear view window too. According to the latest statistics from the AA, a common type of accident in this weather is caused by the mobile igloo – the snow-covered car. It seems too many drivers don’t like getting their fingers cold by scraping snow. They clear a little porthole and hope they can see enough to get by, or amazingly, they don’t clear the windscreen at all. These drivers have caused millions of pounds worth of damage as evidence by recent accident claim statistics. “Accidents waiting to happen” include collisions fences and walls, even sliding down a street and bumping parked cars on the way. One poor unfortunate even drove into an iced-up pond.
Didn’t see that coming
Unfortunately, it’s not only the driver of the mobile snow house who’s travelling blind. Unwary pedestrians, concentrating on staying upright, are not as vigilant as they might be and don’t register that the white shape looming out of a white background is actually a car, so collisions with pedestrians have risen.
Making an impact
Many motorists in Britain have not driven in snow and ice before, or have had very little practice, so pedestrians, cyclists and other road users need to be extra careful to avoid an accident. Rain or slush that falls onto impacted snow and wet surfaces can freeze into black ice and increase the hazards, so conditions can temporarily worsen when daytime thaws are interspersed with frozen nights.
Some estimates warned that at one point the weather cost the British economy up to half a billion pounds in lost productivity because one third of Britain’s workers could not get to work. At the peak of the disruption, 5000 schools had closed. Head teachers had to assess the accident risk from icy access points and playgrounds, even assuming parents were able to deliver their children.
Grit and bear it
Gritting lorries are out, but let’s face it, the grit hardly scratches the surface in snowy deluges of up to one foot and more. All people can do is to heed the warnings of the authorities and prepare as best they can if they are likely to be snowed in, to stay safe and avoid accidents until the arctic blasts pass us over.