Press release:

UK motorists: get ready for the arctic blast and don’t use a CD to scrape your windscreen

With an Arctic plunge in temperature set to hit the nation this weekend, uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service, warns UK drivers to be prepared and kick out bad habits that could put themselves and other road users in danger.

Sabrina Webb, insurance expert at uSwitch.com, has the following advice for keeping safe on the roads: “UK drivers need to take note of Met Office warnings – snow, hail and ice make for treacherous and unpredictable driving conditions.

“Severe winter weather can come out of the blue and motorists are often caught out in these arctic blasts. Worryingly, last year over seven million road users said they didn’t change their driving habits in adverse weather conditions[1]. This year we urge motorists to make sure they take every step necessary to keep themselves and other road users safe this winter.”

A few helpful tips:

Dress appropriately – one in four (27%) drivers say that their winter clothes make it harder to drive[2]. The majority (58%) blame their coat while a third (32%) blame big gloves for obstructing their driving[3]. Thinner layers can help you keep warm while also making sure you stay in control of your vehicle.

Clear your windscreen – take time to completely de-ice your windscreen with a proper de-icer and scraper. A third (31%) of motorists say they don’t do this and alarmingly over half (53%) admit to using inappropriate objects to scrape the ice[4]. Almost half (47%) have used a credit or debit card, a third (33%) used their hands and 13% have taken to their windscreens with a CD[5]. One in ten (12%) drivers are also guilty of using hot water to remove the ice[6]. This is risky as hot water can weaken the glass and cause it to break, so it’s best to stick with de-icer.

Get your car ready (safely) – one in four drivers (25%) admit to leaving the engine running unattended with keys in the ignition to warm up their car while they return to the house[7]. What drivers might not know is that most insurers won’t cover cars stolen while running unattended.

Lower your speed and mind the gap – once on the road, reduce your speed and increase the distance between you and the car in front. A quarter (26%) of motorists said they don’t always lower their average speed on icy roads[8] and another 23% do not increase the distance between them and the vehicle in front[9]. Keeping a distance and reducing speed is important as icy conditions impair breaking performance and cause wheels to slip.

Make sure you have supplies to hand – keep supplies in the boot in case your car breaks down. A winter emergency kit, including essential items like a torch, shovel, blanket, and spare mobile phone/charger, will be invaluable if you are caught out.

Find out how you could save over £1,000 a year with uSwitch here.

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Notes to editors

Research referred to in the release was conducted online by Opinium from 15th to 18th November 2016 among 2,000 adults.

  1. When asked ‘Ahead of cold weather conditions, do you do any of the following?’, from a list of winter driving precautions, 16% answered “none’. The DVLA’s drivers database holds 46,762,863 driving licences. 1 in 6 drivers (16%) don’t take any precautions / change driving style during winter conditions.16% of 46,762,863 = 7,482,058
  2. When asked ‘When driving in cold/icy/snowy weather conditions, have you ever had to wear clothes which made it harder to drive (such as a big winter coat, or gloves that are too thick)?’, 27% answered ‘yes’
  3. Those polled who answered yes in Point 6 (27%), were then asked ‘What clothing did you wear that made it harder to drive in particular?’. 58% answered ‘coat’ and 32% answered ‘big gloves’
  4. When asked ‘Thinking about when you needed to defrost the windscreen of your car, have you ever used an object or method other than an ice scraper? 53% said yes
  5. When asked ‘You mentioned you defrosted your windscreen with an object other than an ice scraper, what did you use instead? 47% answered credit/debit card, 33% my hand and 13% a CD
  6. When asked ‘You mentioned you defrosted your windscreen with an object other than an ice scraper, what did you use instead?’ 12% answered hot water
  7. When asked ‘Have you ever done any of the following while driving in winter?’, 25% answered ‘Left the engine of the car running to heat the car up, while returning to the house’
  8. When asked ‘When driving in cold/icy/snowy weather conditions, do you take any of the following precautions? – I decrease the average speed on my journey’, 22% answered ‘I sometimes do this’ and 4% answered ‘no, I never do this’. 22%+4%=26%
  9. When asked ‘When driving in cold/icy/snowy weather conditions, do you take any of the following precautions? – I increase the distance between my car and any car driving on the road in front of me’, 19% answered ‘I sometimes do this’ and 4% answered ‘no, I never do this’. 19%+4%=23%

About us

Launched in September 2000, uSwitch is an online and telephone price comparison and switching service, helping consumers get a better deal on gas, electricity, broadband, TV services, mobiles and personal finance products including mortgages, credit cards, car and home insurance. Last year we saved UK consumers over £278 million on their energy bills alone.

Customers can sign up to an account that automatically monitors the energy market and notifies them when they can move to a cheaper tariff, while broadband customers can conduct a speed test to find out how fast their broadband is and identify the best deal for their postcode.

The multi award-winning 'Switching Made Simple' app allows customers to compare energy, broadband, credit card, mobile and SIM-only deals – and uSwitch also has a UK contact centre manned by energy and broadband experts. Customers can post their latest energy bills to FREEPOST USWITCH to receive a free call back and be guided through the comparison process, or they can email customerservices@uswitch.com with their postcode and usage details.

uSwitch is owned by ZPG, which operates some of the UK’s most trusted digital brands that help empower smarter property and household decisions including Zoopla, Money, PrimeLocation and SmartNewHomes.

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