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Garmin Reveals Young Drivers Worst Prepared for Winter Driving

SOUTHAMPTON, England--()--A new survey has found drivers* are not taking basic precautions to help them cope with bad weather, despite falling temperatures and the onset of wintry conditions.

The poll carried out for Garmin®, the sat nav manufacturer, found that an overwhelming number of young drivers (18–24 year-olds) said they’re not prepared for winter driving (57%) despite planning to cover the most miles over the Christmas period visiting friends and family**. The rest of the population fared a little better but overall just over one third of motorists still confessed to being ill-prepared (34%).

Last year saw the coldest December in 100 years with significant snowfall in many parts of the UK, widespread ice and temperatures falling to between –10°C and –20°C overnight. Despite past experiences of such traffic-stalling conditions, it seems that even basic precautions are not being taken by motorists.

Drivers across the UK were asked how prepared they think they are for winter driving and given the examples of simple measures such as keeping a blanket in the car, carrying spare windscreen wash, a spade or ensuring their breakdown cover was up-to-date. Overall, only 15% of drivers said they are ‘very prepared’ while 50% believe they are ‘somewhat prepared’ for wintry conditions.

Drivers in Yorkshire and the Humber fared better than most with 21% saying they are ‘very prepared’ (46% somewhat prepared), compared to 6% being ‘very prepared’ in the North West (53% somewhat prepared). Male drivers also seemed more winter-ready with 18% saying they are very prepared (56% somewhat) compared to 12% of female drivers (45% somewhat). On a more positive note, 50% of drivers interviewed in the poll said they are ‘somewhat prepared’, so there are signs that some of us are beginning to plan for winter driving.

However, there is also a lack of willingness to carry out basic vehicle checks. 47% of drivers who ever make long winter car journeys (ie. 100 miles or more) don’t check their car or van (eg. tyre pressure, oil or spare tyre) before setting off as a matter of course (i.e. most or every time).

Planning your journey in advance will help prepare you – as well as having a few alternative routes. Garmin sat navs can tell you where the traffic is, help guide you around it, and certain models can even give you a weather forecast.

With temperatures beginning to plummet, Garmin has teamed up with the Highways Agency to offer the following advice.

Check your car, particularly before a long winter journey

  • Check and replace the anti-freeze in the radiator
  • Make sure your lights are clean and check the bulbs
  • Ensure your windscreen is clean
  • Replace the battery if it’s not reliable
  • Ensure your tyres are correctly inflated and replace them before the tread has reached the legal minimum
  • Check your vehicle is in good running order before setting out; it will reduce your chances of breaking down on the road

Keep an emergency kit in the car

  • Ice scraper and de-icer
  • Torch and spare batteries, or a wind-up torch
  • Warm clothes and blankets
  • Boots
  • First aid kit
  • Jump leads
  • A shovel
  • A sat nav can be useful for directing you to the nearest services or petrol station and telling you exactly where you are in an emergency
  • Road atlas (even if you have a sat nav)
  • Sunglasses (the glare off snow can be dazzling)

Before each journey in severe weather

  • Clear any snow and ice from all windows, lights and number plates. Make sure you can see clearly and be seen.
  • Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged – but don’t use it while you are driving.
  • Take some food and a warm drink in a flask in case you get stuck. Don’t forget to take any personal medication too!


Survey carried out by YouGov Plc. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2060 adults of whom 1573 were drivers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 31 October and 2 November 2011. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

*Driver is defined as anyone who has regular access to a car/van that they drive for personal use

**The average 18 to 24 year old driver who celebrates Christmas thinks they will travel 182 miles visiting friends and family, whereas the average driver aged 55 and over who celebrates Christmas thinks they will only drive 100 miles to visit friends and family as part of celebrating Christmas this year.

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