Press release

Survey shows many drivers won’t be ready when winter bites

Nearly two-thirds of drivers (63%) do not check their anti-freeze, oil or water before setting off on a winter journey, a new Highways Agency survey reveals.

Winter Campaign - Is your car ready?

The 2013-2014 Annual Road User Satisfaction Survey (ARUSS) also found almost half of drivers (45%) don’t do any winter checks at all on their vehicle.

The Agency spends 12 months preparing for winter – it has 290,000 tonnes of salt ready for spreading on roads, a fleet of more than 500 winter vehicles, 90 depots and 240 weather stations around the country.

Now it is encouraging road users to spend a few minutes making sure they, and their vehicle, are fully prepared for severe weather. Roads Minister John Hayes said:

The Highways Agency is well prepared for winter, whatever the weather, and does all it can to keep our roads open. But everyone needs to play their part.

Just a couple of minutes of preparation, making important vehicles checks and giving yourself extra time to plan your journey before you set off, can ensure you and your fellow road users have a safe trip this winter.

The ARUSS asked just over 1,000 drivers what kind of checks they make before winter journeys. Results showed:

  • Less than half (41%) said they checked their lights were working before setting out.
  • Just over half (53%) of drivers don’t have warm clothes in their car in case of emergency.
  • Fewer than half (42%) of drivers carry de-icer in their vehicle.
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) don’t carry drinking water.
  • Only a third (33%) carry a warm drink, around the same number (32%) take food, and (37%) said they packed a blanket.

As a result, the Agency is encouraging drivers to make an emergency kit a priority for their vehicles. John McTaggart, Head of On-Road Services for the Highways Agency, said:

Drivers should really keep an emergency winter kit in their vehicle, in case something goes wrong during a winter journey. “Crucial items like warm clothing, food, warm drinks, a road atlas, shovel, torch, ice-scraper and de-icer could really help if your vehicle breaks down in bad weather.

He added:

In particularly severe weather, drivers need to consider whether their journey is truly necessary. If you really must travel, be sure to check weather and traffic conditions and plan your journey before setting out.

It may be a case of leaving earlier, or leaving a little later, or simply planning the best places for rest stops along the way. You can’t have too much information before you set off: and the more you know, the more likely you are to enjoy a smoother journey this winter.

Met Office staff are embedded at the Agency’s National Traffic Operations Centre throughout winter to provide the latest forecasts and up-to-the-minute weather information for the strategic road network.

Winter driving advice and information is available at, alongside weather information and traffic updates.

Regular winter updates will also be available via the Agency’s winter social media channels, and

General enquiries

Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000.

Media enquiries

Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.

Published 24 November 2014