Now the earlier dark nights are here, Green Flag has looked into the impact the darker nights and winter driving conditions have on road traffic accidents, our cars, and fuel efficiency. Green Flag has released winter driving tips, as well as fuel efficiency tips in order to maximise fuel economy during winter.
With temperatures expected to plummet overnight, Green Flag is forecasting a 20% increase on the average number of breakdowns tomorrow, forecasting 4724 callouts and 3169 breakdowns tomorrow alone (Tuesday 19th November).
With the shorter days rolling in, research* has uncovered the dangers of driving in the dark, with a whopping 3.6 million** (or 9 per cent) drivers confessing they have been involved in a road accident as a result of driving in the dark. A further 4.9 million drivers (or 11 per cent), say they know someone who’s been in a car accident due to driving in the dark. As a result, six in ten (61 per cent) drivers confess they’d rather take an alternative form of transport than drive in the dark, and almost half (44 per cent) of UK drivers admit they avoid driving in the dark entirely. Just over one third (34 per cent) of drivers admit they avoid driving in these conditions as they feel more tired when it’s dark, meanwhile another one in three (32 per cent) admit they find it harder to judge distances.
Cars also become less fuel efficient in cold conditions, due to a combination of factors including warming up the engine’s oil in cold weather, and the use of window defrosters, heaters, seat heaters, lights, and windscreen wipers, meaning winter fuel consumption is higher and motorists are motorists are paying the cost.
Mark Newberry, Commercial Director at Green Flag commented: “Drivers need to know how their vehicles are being affected by the seasonal drop in temperatures as well as the dangers of driving in the dark.
“Some aspects of the impact on fuel efficiency can’t be avoided. Oil will be thicker in colder weather, until the engine warms up, increasing friction in both the engine and the gearbox meaning that the engine will always have to work harder to make things move. However, there’s still a lot that can be done to maximise fuel efficiency.
“Green Flag is committed to making sure UK drivers stay safe on the roads year-round, and know the best ways to look after their vehicles and make their fuel last as long as possible.”
Green Flag has issued the following winter weather driving and tips for boosting fuel efficiency in winter:
Winter Weather Driving Tips
- Check your speed and use gentle driver inputs – even if the roads have been gritted, they’re likely to be slippery.
- Give more warning than usual to other drivers – when turning, stopping or changing lane.
- Keep plenty of distance between cars – you never know when you’ll hit an icy patch. If you pass the same landmarks as the car in front of you within three seconds, you’re following too closely.
- Check whether your car has ABS anti-lock brakes. In the unlikely event that it doesn’t, pump the brake pedal slowly to prevent the wheels locking up and skidding.
- Be extra-wary of black ice. It’s an invisible danger that can catch out even the most careful driver.
- Approach corners at a steady speed, in as low a gear as possible. Don’t touch the clutch unless it’s absolutely necessary, steer smoothly and avoid braking on bends.
- Make sure all passengers are wearing seat belts.
- Ensure you’re familiar with your car’s ventilation system to prevent windows from steaming up. Air conditioning will keep windows free from mist and condensation.
Winter Fuel Efficiency Tips
- Don’t leave your car idle – Rather than leaving your car to idle for several minutes before driving, it’s always best to drive off straight away. Leaving your car to idle has no effect on the car’s performance, and while your vehicle is sitting in the driveway with its engine on, fuel is being wasted and polluting the air. Lots of drivers want to let the engine warm the car up to defrost ice on the windshield, however, it’s best to use a scraper and de-icer on the windshield to clear ice and then to get on with your journey as soon as possible to make the best use of your fuel.
- Avoid short trips – Try to get all your car journeys done in one longer trip, rather than heading out on lots of short journeys. As the car runs over the course of a drive it heats up to its optimum temperature, and the fuel injector gradually reduces the amount of fuel being injected into the engine. When driving short distances, the engine never reaches this optimum temperature. By linking your journeys together, you can keep the engine warmer and more fuel efficient, rather than making it start from cold every time.
- Limit use of electrics – Think about the electrics being used in your vehicle, and whether you need all of them on. During winter, cars use their lights more, have their heater fan running, have heated front and rear windows on to clear the frost, and might even have heated seating switched on. All these electric systems are putting a strain on the battery, which is in turn making the engine work harder and burn more fuel. Try dressing up warmer before your drive and keeping the seats off, or de-frosting your windows before driving rather than having the engine do it for you.
- Ensure your tyres are inflated – Make sure your tyres are properly inflated. Deflated tyres will cause additional drag and slow your car down, but it’s extra important in winter as low air temperatures cool the tyres down and reduce their pressure further, the knock-on effect of which can negatively impact fuel efficiency. Keeping your tyres healthy is always a good idea, however, it is especially important in winter when your car is facing wet and icy roads.
For more information about how to make sure your car is road ready visit www.greenflag.com