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Iceni Magazine | January 28, 2022

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Common Car Accidents in the Winter, and How to Approach Them

Common Car Accidents in the Winter, and How to Approach Them

The winter can be a dangerous time to drive, with unpredictable weather and slippery conditions adding up to busier roads and higher potential for a serious accident.

Knowing the risks, and what to do in the event of encountering them on the road, can go a long way to decreasing your personal risk of suffering an accident. Here are the most common causes of winter accidents, and how to approach them.

Winter Accidents

Spinning Out

Spinning out is a common accident to experience in winter weather, where drivers are ill-prepared for changes to weather. Spin-outs or drifting are generally caused by patches of black ice or compacted snow, providing a slippery surface on which your car’s tyres cannot get a purchase. This can manifest in different ways; if you take a slippery corner quickly and brake relatively late, the effect can be similar to understeer as your car uncontrollably slides wide. Alternatively, turning sharply into the same corner could spin out your rear end.


Rear-ends are also a common cause of the slippery weather provided by the colder months. These tend to occur in high-traffic situations, where black ice or snow results in a vehicle failing to stop before colliding with a stationary car in front. Braking on black ice only locks the wheels, while forward momentum of the car coincides with a lack of traction to keep the car moving ahead. Rear-end collisions are generally low-speed, occurring at traffic lights in areas with poor road maintenance – but they can happen anywhere, and country roads are a particular risk for more dangerous incidents.

Drifting Lanes

Lane drift, whereby a given car drifts outside of the road’s legal boundaries, can happen for two key reasons: it can happen as a result of spinning out, where a car uncontrollably veers into the opposite lane; poor visibility due to fog, sleet, snow or darker evenings can also cause drivers to lose their bearing on the road, innocuously tracking over into other lanes. Drifting lanes may seem like an arbitrary cause of accidents, but accidents as a result of it tend to happen at higher speeds, endangering the lives of drivers on either side of the road.

Accident Prevention in the Winter

Careful, season-appropriate driving can all but eliminate the possibility of causing an accident as a result of the above possibilities. Assume every corner is slippery, and take each one slowly; coasting to a slower speed and slowly engaging the brakes as you turn can maintain traction, and keep you in line. Slippery conditions increase stopping distances by up to 10 times, so keeping space between yourself and the vehicles ahead can reduce the chance of a fender bender. You can also use vehicles ahead to keep your bearings on the road, following the line between their rear headlights.

However, it is also important to remember that other drivers remain capable of making these mistakes; no matter how careful you are, there is still a risk of accident, making road awareness the most important skill to utilise in winter weather.

What to Do In Event of an Accident

Ultimately, you cannot completely eradicate the chance of involvement in an accident or collision – so knowing what to do in the event of one can make all the difference. Obtaining GAP insurance, to ensure coverage in the event of a serious accident, can be a re-assurance before driving on potentially dangerous roads. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, though, your first port of call should be to ascertain the condition of affected parties, and if anyone needs medical attention. For larger accidents, calling the police as well as a breakdown service can be a help, both for traffic management and mediation in case of high tempers. For smaller accidents though, a small emergency kit can help you patch up any minor issues before setting off again.


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