Ice & Fog Cause Havoc

Jack Frost on roads and criminals catch out drivers

Don't leave the car with the engine running to de-ice the windscreen - it could be stolen

16 November 2010

The first days of ice and fog in the south have already caused havoc on some roads, according to the AA, which has caused breakdown volumes to increase by a third so far today.

There have been reports of crashes across the country today from the Cotswolds to East Anglia as drivers struggle to cope with the winter conditions. By 14:30 today, the AA has attended more than 8,700 breakdowns and expects to deal with more than 13,000 by the end of the day – a third busier than normal. London, the south coast and Thames Valley were the hardest hit areas of the country with patrols reporting an increase in 'home start' call-outs due to the cold, and a spate of minor accidents as drivers go too fast for the conditions.

Salt stocks

The AA says that highways authorities are geared up for the winter but, if it is another long cold one, there is still risk of a salt re-supply crisis like last winter – despite there being extra stocks.

Highway authorities have been told by the Transport Secretary to have enough salt in stock for 48 de-icing runs (or roughly 12 days supply), but with winter already started the clock is now ticking.


AA President Edmund King says: "At the start of last winter we warned that there may not be enough salt around and, whilst we are better placed this time, there is still a potential weakness in the supply chain. We don't want highway authorities skimping on this essential duty which helps keep drivers safe and the economy moving."

Most of the early winter crashes appear to be on local roads that have not been gritted and which caught drivers out. There have also been at least four incidents in the Coventry and Warwickshire area of 'frosting' – car crime, where drivers leave their cars running to de-ice the windscreen and the cars are stolen by opportunist criminals.

Winter has also claimed its first de-icing death, killing a mother-of-two in Widnes when her car rolled away and trapped her underneath it.

Edmund King, AA President, added: "With winter only just upon us it does appear that we haven't learnt some of the lessons from last year. Drivers have to be extra careful when taking to the roads on freezing mornings and adapt their driving speed and style. Local Highway Authorities also need to be prepared to get the gritters out early. We can't afford to be caught out like last year.

"Drivers should not leave their cars with the engine running to de-ice their windscreens and return to their houses for a cup of tea. This is when the 'Jack Frost Car Jackers' pounce and drive off. In these cases it is highly likely that your car insurance will not cover such incidents.

"The motto for drivers and highway authorities should be 'Be prepared.'

More winter driving advice »

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16 November 2010