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Drive Safely this January

Now that Christmas is over and normal routine has resumed, it is time to consider the increased risks to our roads that winter can bring. One of the most common personal injury claims from road traffic accidents are due to ice-related accidents. Roads today can be dangerous at the best of times, but throw some ice and snow into the mix and this provides drivers with extra challenges due to the more difficult driving conditions on the roads during these treacherous few months.

Ice, snow and excessive surface water lead to hazardous roads and blinding sun, rain and fog contribute to poor visibility which all increase the likelihood of a collision.

Winter Checklist

In order to minimise the risk of an accident this winter, consider this checklist before you set off on a journey in icy conditions:

  • Make sure your car is properly maintained. Check you tyre pressure is at your recommended level and check your tyre tread.
  • Test that your windscreen wipers are working properly and anti- freeze solution has been added.
  • Check weather forecasts before you begin your journey and allow extra time to complete your journey.
  • Prepare for the worst – pack a flask of hot drink, a bottle of water, a few snacks and a warm blanket. Make sure you charge your mobile phone before setting off in case you break down and need to call for help.
  • When driving, adjust your driving style accordingly, look well ahead for potential hazards and drive slowly at a safe distance from the vehicle in front to avoid harsh braking or steering.

What to do if you are involved in an accident

Whether you are the driver, passenger or pedestrian who has been involved in an accident it is of paramount importance that you take a note of the other driver’s details to include their name, car registration, make of car and insurance details. It is a criminal offence if they do not provide their insurance details within seven days of the accident occurring. It can be extremely distressing and traumatic if you have been involved in a car accident, especially if someone has been hurt. You may not be thinking clearly but you must remain calm and obtain these details.

I would suggest you call the police and take down the names and numbers of any witnesses who saw the accident. Taking photographs of the accident scene may also be helpful but only if it is appropriate to do so. Seek medical attention if you have been injured and make sure the accident details has been accurately recorded in your medical records.

Bringing a Claim

If you have been involved in a road traffic accident through no fault of your own, you may also be able to claim compensation for your injury.

In order to bring a successful claim against a defendant it will depend on a number of factors. The question of ‘who is at fault?’ is at the heart of any personal injury claim. Was the accident caused by the driver whose driving resulted in the collision, or was the accident caused by a poorly maintained road surface.You may be able to bring a claim against the driver and/or the Local Highways Authority.

If you were injured by someone who was not insured at the time of the accident or cannot be traced you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries under the Motor Insurer’s Bureau Compensation Scheme.