Ready for winter?

After three bad winters what have AA members done to prepare for the next one?

6 December 2011

Most drivers are caught in traffic through no fault of their own

Most drivers are caught in traffic through no fault of their own

With winter having arrived in many parts of Scotland and Northern England this week, new AA Populus Poll data shows that more than one in three (38%) could come a cropper if heavy snows catch them out. However, this time last year 42% said they'd done nothing to prepare, suggesting that drivers are better prepared – but only just – this year.

The same poll also found that 39% of drivers expect road gritting to be better than last year, whilst 50% expect it to be about the same. A year ago drivers were marginally more confident that road authorities had learned from the previous winters, with 58% expecting them to do better.

What are AA members doing?

We asked the AA/Populus panel what they had done or will be doing to prepare for this winter.

  • Bought winter tyres - 4% (3% last year)
  • Bought all season tyres - 7% (4% last year)
  • Bought snow chains or snow socks - 4% (1% last year)
  • Put a shovel, blankets, etc in the car - 42% (39% last year)
  • Bought a sturdy pair of walking boots - 25%
  • Made plans with friends/colleagues in case the weather turns bad suddenly     - 12%
  • Other - 13%

In spite of three successive years of winter chaos, more than one in three drivers (38%) have done nothing,

Supplies of AA winter car kits have been flying off the shelves since November though which suggests that the ‘be prepared’ message is getting through to some drivers.

Regional differences

Drivers in Scotland (11%) and the North East (8%) are far more likely to have purchased winter tyres, and less likely to have done nothing than drivers in other areas.  Women are much more likely than men to have bought a sturdy pair of boots (32% vs 21%) or to have made arrangements to stay with friends or colleagues (17% vs 10%), suggesting they may be more looking at ways of carrying on life without the car than ways to make their car travel more reliable.   Men are more likely to have done nothing than women.

Meanwhile, drivers in the South, the East Midlands and Scotland are more likely to feel that road gritting will be better this year, while those in the West Country are most likely to feel it will be worse. More women feel it will be better (43%) than men (37%). But, overall, by far the most common impression is that it will stay the same

Highway authorities are starting this winter with significantly better grit stocks than the two previous winters

Paul Watters, AA head of roads policy

Comment

Paul Watters, Head of Roads Policy at the AA, says: “We know that highway authorities are starting this winter with significantly better grit stocks than the two previous winters and there are also reserve supplies should this winter turn unpleasant.  We are also more confident that the authorities have more robust winter emergency plans should the worse happen.

“Drivers too are doing their bit and have clearly learnt that being prepared is key – not only by putting winter essentials in the car but also making sure their vehicle is in good mechanical order.  Like last year the AA is prepared with patrols ready to answer the call in all weathers, often going above and beyond the call of duty in challenging wintery conditions.  The AA’s special operations teams have already been deployed into the worst affected areas.”

(6 December 2011)

Populus received 18,138 responses from AA members to its online poll between 20th and 27th October 2011