Drivers warned country roads may be the ‘first area to freeze’ as roads ‘are not gritted’

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Insurance experts at NFU Mutual have said country roads may catch out even the “most experienced drivers” with accidents common. This is because the roads may be covered with “hardened black ice” which can be invisible to road users and cause major safety risks.

Zoe Hanson, Rural Motor Claims Specialist at NFU Mutual said these roads can “take longer to thaw”.

She has also warned these areas may not be gritted as extensively as main routes which could see some motorists lose control of their car completely.

Ms Hanson said: “Icy country roads are extremely challenging for even the most experienced drivers, and rural accidents are common where roads aren’t gritted and it’s easy to lose control of the vehicle.

“Even if you think a frost has thawed, bendy country lanes with high hedgerows, trees, gates, or bridges which block the sun are often the first areas to freeze and take longer to thaw, creating patches of ice which thaw at different rates.

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“Be mindful of hardened black ice, which can be left over after heavy snowfall and is invisible to the eye both day and night.”

The AA has also urged drivers to consider their current driving environment when travelling in cold weather.

They said just because conditions may have improved on main roads such as motorways, country roads and bridges may still be affected.

The AA has warned drivers to be cautious for at least a few days after really cold weather as a precaution.

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New data from NFU Mutual shows ice was the cause of more than two-thirds of its winter weather accidents last Winter.

A poll of 2,000 drivers also found ice was the top-anxiety concern for road users with 50 percent admitting this scared them.

However, just one in five motorists surveyed by the group knew it would take ten times longer to stop a car in icy conditions.

Sunlight can also be a problem for road users at this time of the year, potentially dazzling road users and blocking their overall view of the route ahead.

Data from NFU Mutual found low sun contributed to a quarter of all its winter accidents in 2019 highlighting the dangers.

Ms Hanson has warned this can be “more of a risk” than other weather such as fog and urged motorists to slow down when behind the wheel.

She said: “Clear skies and the low sun can easily dazzle drivers, particularly where the sun reflects off a wet or icy road surface.

“This is more of a risk than fog or mist, as country lanes with intermittent trees catch motorists out, and sun visors can’t really help.

“The best recommendation is to slow down. A blind corner vs. dazzling sunlight and an oncoming vehicle is a recipe for disaster.

“If you live rurally and need to drive, stay in as high a gear as possible – alongside keeping your revs low, this reduces the chance of spinning your wheels and losing control.

“Remember it takes ten times longer to stop in icy conditions so give yourself and other drivers more space to cope.”

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