EVEN if the sun is shining with unseasonable cheerfulness, any responsible driver at this time of the year has to prepare for icy roads.
The question is how much longer does it take a vehicle to stop on ice?
The answer lies in a recent study highlighting the risks too many drivers are taking in bad weather.
The survey carried out on behalf of road safety charity Brake and Direct Line Insurance, reveals71 per cent of drivers questioned do not know how much longer it will take their vehicle to stop in icy conditions. This means they could be putting other road users, and themselves, at risk by under-estimating the distance.
A total of 11 per cent of drivers thought the stopping distance is twice as long in icy weather, a third estimated it is four times as long and 27 per cent believed it was five times as long. Just 23 per cent of drivers knew that the actual figure is up to ten times as long, with six per cent being even more cautious and believing it is up to 20 times as long.
That means, while on a fine day, if you are driving at 30mph and need to brake immediately it will take you 23 metres to stop, in icy conditions it could take up to 230 metres - that's the length of two-full size football pitches.
Andof course, the faster you are travelling, the further that distance could be.
It gets even worse because many had little idea over stopping distances in wet weather.
More than one in five drivers questioned failed to check the gap between their car and the car in front, and another fifth did not leave a large enough gap, meaning that, if they have to brake suddenly, it could lead to a serious crash. Brake recommends that drivers leave at least four seconds between their vehicle and the vehicle in front in wet weather.
The trouble is that motoring is part of our everyday lives and modern cars are so reliable and easy to drive.
We tend to forget that when Mother Nature ladles a cupful of atmospheric grief, the cossetting ambience of a modern car tends to kid us over just how treacherous it can be out there.
I have spoken to some drivers who said they could not cope with driving in snow and ice and would rather put their car away until the sun pops out again.
Maybe they are the wise ones.