Now winter is well and truly approaching, it is essential that you carry our regular checks of your vehicle. According to Brake – the road safety charity, vehicle defects contributed to 2,000 crashes in 2013, of which 42 resulted in a fatality. Illegal, defective or under-inflated tyres are the most common defect contributing to fatal crashes.

Why take the risk? A few simple checks can make all the difference.

The advice from Brake is to make sure your vehicle is in good working order before you set off. It might delay your journey, but the few minutes that are spent checking the vitals of your vehicle could save your, or someone else’s life.

It doesn’t need to take long but there are a few simple checks that you can do yourself to make sure that your vehicle is safe for the journey.

Brake advises drivers to do the following every week, and before any long journeys. You should always check:

  • Tyres have a tread depth of at least 3mm (less is risky in the wet), are free from cracks, buckles or bulges, and are at the right pressure (using a gauge to check).
  • All lights and indicators are working properly. You can do this by having someone stand outside the vehicle as you switch them on and off.
  • Windscreen wipers and washers are working by testing them while the car is stationary, and topping up the windscreen washer if needed.
  • Oil and water levels are correct.
  • Windows and mirrors are clean and clear, and the latter positioned properly.
  • Brakes are working, by applying them gently while driving very slowly in a safe, flat place with no one else around. If they feel different to how they usually feel – such as taking longer to ‘bite’ or are harder to push down or are making squeaking or grinding noises – you need to get them checked with a mechanic immediately.

If you notice any problems, get them fixed straight away, and consult a garage if you have concerns.

Reducing road accidents

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “Safe driving starts before you get behind the wheel – the driver has to be fit to drive, and so does the vehicle. Taking a vehicle on the road without being sure it is roadworthy is asking for trouble, exposing yourself and others to unnecessary danger and potentially costing you more in the long-run. It is shocking to see so many drivers both ignorant and wilfully negligent when it comes to basic and essential vehicle maintenance checks. It’s especially worrying at this time of year, when drivers need to make sure they and their vehicle are prepared in case bad weather hits. You don’t need to be an expert to carry out basic vehicle checks, and it needn’t take long. If you are unsure of what to do, follow Brake’s advice, and consult a local mechanic if you need to. And if you do discover a problem, don’t put off getting it fixed, which risks a breakdown, extra costs, or worse, a devastating crash.”

Litigation Executive, Emma Greenhalgh of Freeclaim Solicitors said, “Whilst human error accounts for the majority of road traffic accidents, a defective vehicles makes an already perilous activity even more so. We are all responsible for making sure that our cars are roadworthy and in a safe condition. A few simple checks really can make all the difference.”

At Freeclaim Solicitors we have 30 years’ experience of helping people who have been involved in a road traffic crash. The physical and psychological injuries caused by a collision can be life-changing and our compassionate solicitors are here to make sure you get the justice you deserve, as well as the treatment you need to stand the best chance of making a good recovery.

Call us free on 0800 612 7340 in complete confidence or fill in an enquiry form and we will call you back. You can be assured that we have the legal expertise you need to make a successful claim for motor vehicle accident compensation. We are members of the RoadPeace Legal panel, providing help and support for people who are bereaved or seriously injured in a road collision.