The vast majority of drivers are failing to carry out simple safety checks that could keep them safe in the wintry weather that promises to lash parts of the UK this week.

According to the RAC, just over one-third (38 percent) of motorists check their oil levels once every two months at best, while seven percent say they wait until the warning light illuminates to do anything.

Less than a quarter of the 2,000 motorists surveyed by the motoring organisation said they checked their oil at the recommended rate of once every two weeks and before long journeys.

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Drivers are slightly better at checking their tyres, with 58 percent of those quizzed checking their rubber once every two weeks. However, 37 percent of respondents said they only checked their tyres between one and six times a year, despite the fact that worn tyres can make driving in wet or icy conditions incredibly treacherous.

Windscreen wipers appear to be among the most neglected parts of the vehicle, with three in 10 drivers (30 percent) saying they wait until the wipers have stopped clearing the windscreen before they replace them.

Coolant levels are also rarely checked, with exactly half of those questioned claiming they waited for a warning light to come on before topping up. Just 26 percent said they checked the coolant at the recommended two-week interval.

RAC patrol Chris Burgess said: ‘While there are no hard-and-fast rules on exactly how often drivers should check basic things like oil, windscreen wipers and tyres, our research suggests a sizeable proportion are chancing it and hoping their car won’t fail them – which is a worry given the current sub-zero temperatures.

‘Checking things like tyres, oil, coolant and wipers takes little time – and can often be simple and reasonably cheap to sort out. The risks of not checking things and getting them fixed or topped up is potentially disastrous – at worst, you could be risking an accident or breakdown in freezing conditions, and at best you’re storing up problems that could prove to be very expensive in the long run.’