CRASH Services, a Northern Ireland company which helps motorists in the aftermath of accidents, has today issued a strong warning to drivers as it reports that calls to its 24 hour helpline have increased by 30% since temperatures dropped this December.
With additional forecasts of snow in Northern Ireland, CRASH Services, alongside the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA) have issued advice to local motorists and warned of hazardous driving conditions on the roads this week and over the Christmas and New Year period.
According to PSNI statistics, a total of 58 people have already lost their lives on Northern Ireland roads this year. In a news release issued by the PSNI earlier this month they said “Driving too quickly for the road conditions is one of the biggest causes of road collisions during the Winter.”
With the continued wintry weather conditions and longer hours of darkness, motorists are urged to take extra caution on the roads. CRASH Services has reiterated its winter driving advice to help motorists avoid a traffic accident.
- Reduce speed to compensate for reduced visibility and uneven road surfaces and greater breaking distances.
- Maintain the correct depth of thread on your tyres and replace them if necessary.
- Prepare your vehicle before setting off on a journey.
Tony McKeown, Sales and Marketing Director at CRASH Services said, “We have witnessed a significant increase in accidents reported to us in recent days and this closely mirrors what we experienced last winter when we assisted with over 300 traffic accidents in one week alone, representing double what we would normally expect at this time of the year. We believe in prevention first and foremost and believe it is vitally important that motorists receive the right advice to help keep them safe on the roads. Driving in the winter is very different than in other times of the year, with adverse conditions; such as snow and ice, which motorists struggled with the last two winters.”
Ita McErlean, of RoSPA Northern Ireland, said: “Longer periods of darkness, snow, ice, heavy rain and freezing fog can make for treacherous driving conditions.
“If this winter is anything like the last two, it will pay to plan journeys and to adjust your driving to suit the conditions.
“To make sure your vehicle is in tip top condition before setting out, check the following:
- Lights are clean and working
- Battery is fully charged
- The windscreen, wiper blades and other windows are clean and the washer bottle filled
- Tyre condition, tread depth and pressure (of all the tyres, including the spare)
- Brakes are working as they should do
- Fluids are kept topped up, especially windscreen wash (to the correct concentration to prevent it freezing), anti-freeze and oil
- Stock up on de-icer, windscreen wash, oil and anti-freeze and keep them topped up.
“It might also be worth packing an emergency kit, particularly on long journeys. An energy drink, blanket and the odd chocolate bar could make all the difference if you become trapped in a snow drift or stuck on a motorway overnight. We also advise carrying a shovel, tow rope, Wellington boots, a working torch, hazard warning triangle, first aid kit (in good order) and a fully charged mobile phone.”
Low temperatures and the repeated freezing and thawing cycles can also cause many roads to split and potholes to form. Driving through a pothole can increase the risk of losing control and causing a serious accident.
In addition to the risk of injury on the roads, winter driving can also carry financial risk as damage to vehicles can be caused by road conditions. Whilst motorists may be aware of the dangers, many are left unsure of what to do if they damage their vehicle. CRASH recommends that you get the vehicle checked at a garage because damage can sometimes not be easily spotted but can compromise driving.
CRASH Services has helped over 45,000 Northern Ireland motorists since it was founded in 1996. The local company handles all aspects of an accident including vehicle recovery, replacement vehicles, approved repairs and liaising directly with insurance companies on behalf of motorists. Motorists are encouraged to save the company’s 24 hour helpline number on their mobile phones this Winter – 0500 27 27 47 and visit crashservices.com for more information.