With snow falling in, or forecast for, many areas of the country this week, the AA has claimed that a Populus poll shows that 75% of drivers are ill-prepared for potentially hazardous weather conditions.
The AA is urging drivers to carry an essential winter kit and check their cars before getting behind the wheel.
Andy Smith, AA spokesman, said: “Even if there’s no snow where you’re travelling, it’s likely to be icy in places. Keep your speed down, particularly on rural and ungritted side roads, and take extra care when approaching junctions and roundabouts.”
While snow has already hit much of Britain, a second heavier band is forecast to fall over central and eastern England later today (14 January).
The Met Office has upgraded its “cold weather action” warning to level three – one underneath a national emergency – for all of England, urging social and healthcare services to target specific actions at high-risk groups.
The RAC is expecting up to 56,000 breakdowns and widespread disruption. It has placed extra patrols on stand-by to help stranded motorists and said call-outs are expected to rise by 20% or more.
The Highways Agency has said it is “well prepared” for winter conditions. A spokeswoman said: “We have a fleet of 500 state-of-the-art winter vehicles on standby, supported by tried-and-tested winter resilience plans.
“We have reviewed salt stock levels and taken action where needed to enhance our resilience and we have again established a reserve salt stock to help ensure that there is enough salt to deal with severe winter.
“Our roads will be treated whenever there is a risk of ice or snow. However, even when roads have been treated, drivers should still take care, especially on stretches where the local road layout or landscape means there could be a greater risk of ice forming.”