Wiltshire drivers urged to stay safe on county roads over Winter

Drivers are being urged to keep safe on the roads this winter by slowing down and following precautions for the cold weather conditions.

The total number of people killed or seriously injured annually from collisions on roads in the county has fallen over the past five years from 264 in 2009 to 165 in 2013.

But there is an increase during the winter months by as much as 25 percent – with the highest numbers recorded in December compared to the lowest months of May and August.

Wiltshire Community Safety Partnership – which includes Wiltshire Police, Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, the probation service, the Youth Offending Team and Wiltshire Council – is urging drivers to heed advice on keeping safe in the adverse conditions, including how to cope with flooded roads.

John Thomson, cabinet member for highways, said: “For many people in Wiltshire the car is the only option, especially for last-minute important journeys.

“While it is tempting for us to try and get to our destinations as quickly as possible, when conditions are bad there is nothing that cannot wait a few more minutes if that makes the roads safer for everyone.

“I would urge all drivers to just slow down a little over the winter months. Just being a little more cautious can make all the difference.”

Advice to drivers is not to drive during poor weather conditions unless the journey cannot be avoided and driving is the only option.

Judith Billingham, road safety manager at Wiltshire Council, said: “As well as taking a few steps to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy during the winter, this year is the 50th anniversary of the first drink-drive campaign, and that is still one of the biggest causes of road collisions.
“Even a small amount of alcohol affects your ability to drive.”

  • Where possible ensure your vehicle has been recently fully serviced and have the antifreeze tested. Anyone not able to have their vehicle serviced can carry out some simple safety checks: ensure lights are clean and working, battery is fully charged, windscreen, wiper blades and other windows are clean and the washer bottle filled with screen wash, brakes are working well, tyres are in good condition and at the correct pressure and fluids are kept topped up, especially windscreen wash, anti-freeze and oil.
  • When driving in snowy or icy conditions, reduce speed, avoid harsh breaking or acceleration and sharp steering. To brake on ice and snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, allow your speed to fall and use your brakes gently.
  • When approaching flooded roads, avoid the deepest water – which is usually near the kerb. Don’t attempt to cross if the water seems too deep. If you decide to risk it, drive slowly in first gear but keep the engine speed high by slipping the clutch – this will stop you from stalling.
  • Be aware of the bow wave from approaching vehicles and remember to test your brakes when you are through the flood.
  • In foggy conditions drivers should always slow down, switch on headlights and fog lamps. Do not ‘hang on’ to the rear lights of the car in front as you will be too close to be able to brake safely, switch off distracting noises and open the window slightly so that you can listen for other traffic, especially at crossroads and junctions.

Wiltshire Police are also reminding drivers of the dangers of drinking and taking drugs before getting behind the wheel.

Officers are stepping up roadside enforcement throughout the whole of December and into the New Year, to catch those drivers who ignore the warnings and put other people and their own lives in danger.

Inspector Steve Cox, head of roads policing operations, said: “Christmas is a busy time of the year with lots of social events taking place that people don’t want to miss out on. We want people to enjoy the festive season however, it’s important that you have sensible plans in place to get home safely when you’re out and about.

“Drink and/or drug driving is a very serious offence and innocent lives are put in grave danger by people who make such a senseless decision.
“We want to ensure that we do all we can to help keep Wiltshire roads safe and a lot of time and effort will be put in to catch those who decide to drink and/or drug drive this Christmas.The message from us is perfectly clear. If you take a chance on drink and/or drug driving, you will be caught.

“I also want to remind drivers that the effects of a night out may still affect you the following morning. Every year officers arrest people the morning after the night before celebrations.”

Being caught drink or drug-driving can include a 12-month driving ban, a large fine, a criminal record and serious implications for insurance premiums.