Serious road accidents prompt winter driving advice

Oxfordshire County Council's Fire and Rescue Service advises that heavy rain, snow and ice at this time of the year make car journeys more difficult and potentially more dangerous to road users.

Firefighters want motorists to be prepared for such conditions by having items such as an ice-scraper; a torch; a first aid kit and a hazard warning triangle - and in very bad weather a blanket; a shovel and wellington boots - readily available in their vehicle.

Mirrors and windows should be completely cleared of ice and windows totally demisted before a journey is started.

Road traffic accidents in Oxfordshire recently have included:

  • A person died following a two-vehicle collision on the A40 near Burford on Tuesday 16 December
  • A broken-down bus carrying 40 passengers was in collision with a lorry in the early hours of Monday 15 December on the A34 south of Marcham
  • A vehicle was in collision with a broken-down car on the A40 ring road between Marston and Headington late on Wednesday 10 December

All accidents are being investigated with no cause attributed yet to any of them.

Top winter driving tips

  • Whilst driving, motorists should make sure they leave plenty of space between them and the car in front. In wet weather stopping distances will be at least double those required for stopping on dry roads as tyres have less grip on the road
  • Use of fog lamps if visibility is reduced to 100 metres or less is advised, as is remembering to switch them off when visibility improves as they can dazzle other road users.  Motorists should also take into account that fog also makes the road wet and slippery
  • Winter and spring sunlight can present drivers with an unexpected hazard, if drivers are blinded by glare, they should reduce their speed. Keep a pair of sunglasses handy
  • It can take ten times longer to stop in icy conditions that on a dry road: motorists are advised to drive slowly and allow extra room to slow down and stop

Practical steps

Mick Clarke, Oxfordshire County Council’s Fire and Rescue Service Road Safety Manager said: “Reduced visibility and slippery road surfaces make winter driving particularly hazardous. I would like to see all drivers adjust to the driving conditions, whether it’s frosty and icy, foggy or there’s heavy rain, slow down and give yourself time to react.

“Nationally, we have seen an increase in collisions which has unfortunately been reflected locally. Oxfordshire have suffered a number of serious collisions in the last few days and I would like to take the opportunity to remind people of the increased awareness needed whilst driving at this time of year. For everyone’s sake drive safely this Christmas.”


Safety advice is being issued as part of 365alive, an Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service initiative designed to reduce incidents through educational and preventative work.

Councillor Rodney Rose, the Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, who also has Cabinet responsibility for the Fire and Rescue Service, said: "Staying safe on the road all year round is important, but winter brings its own weather hazards which people can do practical things to help counter, like driving more slowly and being prepared before setting out on a journey."