A third of drivers would ignore the most severe weather warning for snow from experts, despite the enhance in risk of heading out onto the road, a investigate has revealed. 

Met Office weather warnings anticipate sleet and snow for many parts of the UK from today into the weekend. 

However, an AA poll of over 12,000 motorists has found 33 per cent will ignore the highest red warning and get behind the wheel – while 62 per cent admit they will drive when there’s been an amber warning issued.

Insurer Aviva has also asked drivers about their habits in winter to unveil how many make major mistakes. 

Would you take the risk? A third of drivers said they would ignore the most severe Met Office red weather warning for snow and still head out onto the road, according to a huge new poll

Would you take the risk? A third of drivers said they would ignore the most severe Met Office red weather warning for snow and still head out onto the road, according to a huge new poll

The AA’s survey of 12,187 drivers found a similar proportion of motorists would ignore the highest warnings for sleet, as they would snow on the roads.

Almost four in five of respondents said they would disregard an amber weather warning and 51 per cent would take the plunge by heading onto the roads during a red warning of sleet.

The AA says driver attitude to winter weather is a concern given the high casualty stats because of snow on the roads.  

Some 33% of drivers ignore the highest Met Office red warning for snow - while 62% do the same when an amber warning is issued

Some 33% of drivers ignore the highest Met Office red warning for snow – while 62% do the same when an amber warning is issued

A total of 487 road users have been killed or seriously injured in road accidents in the snow between 2017 and last year, according to government figures. 

However, the likelihood of a fatal or serious injury on a snowy Monday is half that of other days of the week, the AA’s analysis shows.

Official Department for Transport figures show that 70 people were killed or seriously injured on snow-hit roads last year, the third highest since 2017 compared to 96 in 2021 and a truly horrendous 187 in 2018.

The 37 per cent higher toll in 2021, compared to 2022, came when the UK exited Covid-19 lockdowns and people re-honed their driving skills.

Road casualties in the snow (Killed or Seriously Injured) 
DAY OF THE WEEK2017201820192017-19202020212020-212022TOTAL
Monday191118816431
Tuesday443115881119885
Wednesday435125121113670
Thursday831544611171576
Friday28161054112131380
Saturday528538022221474
Sunday925337321241071
TOTALS5918747293289612470487
Source: Department for Transport, road accidents and safety statistics    

What are the most common winter driving mistakes? 

Aviva has also been asking motorists about their attitude and behaviour behind the wheel during the winter, revealing the most common mistakes they make during the coldest months of the year.

The poll of 2,001 British motorists found that 28 per cent are leaving their cars running to de-ice screens, with older generations most likely to take the risk, which leaves their motor incredibly vulnerable to thieves.

This is a bigger issue among the older generations. 

Over a third of over 65s say they leave their car’s engine running to de-ice screens, compared to 17 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds and 24 per cent of 25 to 34 year-olds.

Not only does this literally leave the door open to thieves, by doing so drivers may be unwittingly invalidating their motor insurance cover. 

It’s also an offence under Section 42 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 which states that drivers cannot leave vehicles running and unattended while on a public highway, otherwise known as ‘quitting’.

This can be punishable as an act of careless driving and land motorists with a fine of £100. 

A shocking number of drivers admit to 'portholing' - when they drive while only having a small cleared section of the windscreen. Making this dangerous error can land you with a fine of up to £2,500 - and in a recent case, a ban from the road for a year

A shocking number of drivers admit to ‘portholing’ – when they drive while only having a small cleared section of the windscreen. Making this dangerous error can land you with a fine of up to £2,500 – and in a recent case, a ban from the road for a year

Driving with snow on your roof can also land you with a massive fine up to £2,500. Yet, 19% of drivers admit to doing it in the winter

Driving with snow on your roof can also land you with a massive fine up to £2,500. Yet, 19% of drivers admit to doing it in the winter

Bad winter driving habits that can land motorists in trouble

– 28% have left their car running to de-ice the windscreen

– 19% have driven even though there is snow on the top of their car

– 16% have driven even though the screen was not fully de-iced or de-misted

– 16% have driven without checking that the number plate is fully visible

– 15% have driven even though the screen wasn’t clear 

– 14% have driven even though the mirrors weren’t fully clear

– 13% have driven through floodwater or a ford

– 13% have left the car unlocked while popping into a shop of dropping off cards to friends 

– 11% pour boiling water on their car’s windscreen to defrost it

– 7% have driven while wearing wellies or snowboots

Source: Aviva poll of 2,001 drivers 

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When looking at visibility, the research reveals that millions could be driving off with their field of view being blocked. 

Some 16 per cent of Britons said they have driven away without making sure that their screen is fully de-misted and de-iced, which is commonly referred to as ‘portholing’.

A advance 15 per cent said they’ve done set off without the screen being completely clear (of snow or other grime).

Another 19 per cent have gone on their merry way with roof of the car that could slide down onto the glass, which can result in a fine of £2,500 if caught by police.

Some 14 per cent also said they don’t check that their wing mirrors are properly clear. 

By doing so, motorists could also be risking a fine under Section 229 of the Highway Code, which states that all drivers ‘must be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all windows’.

If caught by the police without a completely clear view out of their car, drivers can be fined up to £2,500 and three points of your licence – and in a recent case, a motorist was banned for a year.

Some 16 per cent of drivers also said they don’t check to ensure their number plate is clearly visible, meaning they risk receiving a fine of up to £1,000 from police. 

Some 16% of motorists polled by Aviva said they have driven without checking that the number plate is fully visible - an offence punishable with a £1,000 fine

Some 16% of motorists polled by Aviva said they have driven without checking that the number plate is fully visible – an offence punishable with a £1,000 fine

Other driving habits include leaving the car unlocked to quickly pop into somewhere (13 per cent), inexplicably pouring boiling water over a car windscreen to de-ice it (11 per cent) as well as wearing inappropriate footwear such as wellies or snowboots (7 per cent). 

Those driving whilst wearing inappropriate clothing and footwear could also risk a fine under govern 97 of the Highway Code which states that you should ensure: ‘clothing and footwear do not hinder you using the controls in the correct manner’, the insurer says.

If a motorist has caused an accident and is then found to be wearing inappropriate footwear, a fine of up to £5,000 can be issued.

Martin Smith, motor claims manager at Aviva, says all drivers have a ‘legal responsibility to ensure their vehicle is in a roadworthy condition’ and this means making sure all windscreens and mirrors are clear of any snow, leaves, debris, ice and dirt.

‘While we all want to get to our next destination as quickly as possible, it pays to be safe, particularly as the risk of an accident typically increases during the winter months. 

‘Spending five or ten minutes to prepare your car means that not only are you more likely to avoid an accident, but also a hefty fine – which can be as much as £1,000 – points on your licence or even a driving ban in the worst case scenario.

‘If you do leave the engine running to de-ice your car, be sure to remain in your vehicle at all times. Failing to do so means that you may not be able to make a claim on your insurance in the event that your vehicle is unfortunately stolen.’

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