Although some might say winter is coming to an end now it is still very important to watch out for the weather when driving: Scotland’s weather can be unpredictable and if drivers fail to adjust their driving to the conditions it can make accidents more likely. So how exactly can adverse weather conditions affect your affect your ?
Despite the obvious that rain and fog can cause poor visibility, there are a few other things to keep in mind:
Generally, it is important to check that your car is in good condition and well maintained which includes brakes, lights, batteries, windscreens and wiper blades. In adverse weather this can be crucial to avoid accidents.
Special attention should be paid to the condition of your tyres: The minimum legal tread depth for cars is 1.6mm across the centre ¾ of the breadth of the tread around the entire circumference (1 mm for motorcycles). Check them for bulges, cuts or tears that could weaken the tyre. If found by the police failing to maintain your tyres can result in a fine up to £2,500 fine and 3 penalty points per tyre so that it is advisable to check them once a week.
If you are a commercial operator, your responsibilities are even higher: it is important to carry out safety inspections before using any vehicle for the first time no matter if it is leased, hired or borrowed. Additionally, it must be ensured that there are regular safety inspections and drivers are given clear written instructions of their responsibilities. Lastly, a system must be in place to ensure that non-roadworthy vehicles are taken out off service.
The most important set of rules for driving in Scotland, England and Wales is the Highway Code. It will be used to determine whose fault an accident was when the situation is unclear. Although failure to comply with the Code will not mean that someone will get prosecuted, the Code may be used in evidence in any court proceedings under the Traffic Acts to establish liability. Additionally, many of the rules in the Code are legal requirements, which is indicated by the words ‘MUST/MUST NOT’ in the rules. Disobeying them constitutes a criminal offence which can result in a fine, penalty points or being disqualified from driving or even a prison sentence. Therefore, it is good to know what the Highway Code says about adverse weather in Rules 226 to 237. While most of the rules do not contain legal requirements, there are some important exceptions:
The most important thing after an accident is to see whether anyone has been hurt and immediately call emergency services if needed. It is also advisable to get out of the car while trying to keep warm and safe on the hard shoulder on the motorway or off the road.
Although it might be difficult it is important to stay calm and assess the situation. Talking to the other driver and getting as much evidence as possible, especially if the other driver is responsible for the accident or it is unclear what exactly happened. Information that needs to be collected if possible includes:
If not all of this evidence can be collected or if there is a dispute about liability it does not mean that there is no entitlement to claim compensation. However, it will make it much easier to deal with the consequences of an accident. When in doubt is it always advisable to contact an experienced solicitor about what to do next.
Lastly, any accident must be reported to the insurance company immediately regardless of the driver’s involvement in it or whether legal action has been taken or not. The insurance company will then try to recover any money they paid on the driver’s behalf such as repair costs. They might also refer the driver to a specific cooperating solicitor, but the driver remains free to choose any other solicitor to act on his or her behalf.
Therefore care should always be taken when driving in adverse weather to make sure accidents are avoided as much as possible.
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