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Motorists urged to make sure vehicles are winter-ready

Drivers are being urged to make sure their vehicles are ready for winter as the region braces itself for bad weather.

Traffic collisions are likely to rise as Storm Ciara is set to hit the North East this weekend and snow is predicted to fall next week.

Campaign group Road Safety GB North East (RSGB NE) advised drivers to check that their cars were safe before going out.

“It may seem like we are stating the obvious, but it’s easy to forget about maintaining your car when you are busy,” said RSGB NE Chairman Paul Watson.

“Make sure your tyres are in good condition and pumped up sufficiently, check your oil and washer bottle, and keep a scraper or de-icer close to hand. Don’t forget to check regularly that your lights are working, too.

“It’s basic stuff, but collisions do occur because of things like this. We have seen crashes and injuries because windscreens are not properly clear, obscuring the driver’s view. People also need to slow down and drive in accordance to the conditions. 

“You need more time to brake in the wet and ice, so keep your distance and watch your speed. Also, during high winds, it’s important to keep both hands on the steering wheel and be careful passing high-sided vehicles as gusts of wind can cause you to lose control.”

A third of collisions that happen during freezing temperatures in the north east involve a vehicle skidding out of control.

RSGB NE said drivers can decrease the likelihood of collisions happening if drivers make sure tyres are in good condition and are properly pressurised.

The emergency services regularly host free vehicle check days across the region, where motorists can get their cars checked, and some garages also carry out free winter checks, too.

Cleveland Fire Brigade carried out one of their vehicle check days with the road safety team from Middlesbrough Council before Christmas and recorded that out of the 46 vehicles inspected, 22 cars had one safety issue and 11 had two or more issues.

The most common issues were worn and flat tyres, low oil, as well as blown bulbs and defective wiper blades.

Andrew Bright, Road Safety Co-ordinator for Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “We hold a lot of these events and always find a number of vehicles that fail basic safety standards.

“None of the drivers do it deliberately – they simply don’t realise or just forget to carry out basic checks.

“It may seem like we are preaching things that people already know, but the simple fact is that people do get caught out and drivers continue to drive in poor conditions at their usual speeds. 

“It takes just five minutes to check the basics on your car, so we urge people to spend the time this weekend. It could prevent a collision or even save a life.

“Be prepared so that in the event of a breakdown you have high visibility signs and equipment to ensure you and your vehicle can be seen.”

For more information about Road Safety GB North East, road safety advice and campaigns, go to https://www.lookoutroadsafety.co.uk.