Winter driving campaign launches as cold weather hits

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Winter driving campaign launches
With the first frost of the season in some parts of the UK this week, road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists has launched its winter driving campaign.

The move comes in response to increased accident rates in winter thanks to more dangerous driving conditions.

Slippery roads (due to weather) contributed to 13,420 road casualties in 2011, and related to 79 fatalities. Meanwhile, rain, sleet, snow or fog was the cause of 1,786 reported road casualties in 2011 and travelling too fast for conditions was a contributing factor in 13,425 accidents in the same year.

Intended to help motorists prepare their cars and drive them safely this winter, the campaign includes a website containing advice, traffic updates and weather forecasts. The charity will also publish weekly news release and driving tips in reaction to winter weather.

Advice from the site includes:
- plan your route according to driving conditions
- pack an emergency kit: high-viz jacket, food and water, boots, de-icer, scraper, torch, shovel and charged mobile phone with your breakdown emergency number
- slow down and accelerate smoothly and gradually
- drive in the highest gear possible, starting off in second
- increase your following distance by ten times

There is also a growing trend for winter tyres, which should be fitted ahead of bad weather, according to IAM: "By the time the snow hits they will be difficult to find." The tyres have a different tread pattern to give better grip on snow and use a winder grade rubber which stays flexible and maintains grip below freezing.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "The first thing you need to ask when the weather is bad is whether you need to travel, and if so, if there are alternatives to the roads.

"When you are on the road, be prepared to slow down and take extra care, particularly on bends and roads which are open to the elements."