As the cold winter months draw in, motorists across Great Britain are being given free winter safety checks along with invaluable winter tyre advice in a bid to beat the inevitable Big Freeze.

With the Department for Transport reporting a three per cent increase in road accidents resultant from slippery road conditions caused by bad weather,* national garage chain HiQ is urging motorists to make the most of free comprehensive vehicle inspections across all of its 150 centres.

In the annual summary of reported road casualties in 2010, it is revealed that 17 per cent of all road accidents named road environment as a contributing factor and of that, 12 per cent were down to slippery road conditions.

More worryingly, slippery roads caused 20,000 road casualties leading to death, serious or slight injuries in 2010, with a quarter of those admitting to losing control of the vehicle which resulted in the accident.

Following these statistics HiQ is also advocating the use of winter tyres after a successful introduction of the product last year.

Stuart Carr, HiQ fast fit manager, said: "The tread compound in winter weather tyres contains more natural rubber to minimise the hardening effect, giving them extra grip in cold, wet and icy conditions.

"This means that with winter weather tyres you will experience significantly shorter stopping distances.

"Today's winter weather tyres are just as quiet and comfortable as normal tyres and we will be stocking them across our centres as we think they are absolutely essential when travelling safely during the inevitable freezing temperatures."

In addition, winter makes many more demands of drivers and their vehicles. Brakes, visibility, steering and batteries are all subject to extremely heavy use and all HiQ centres are offering free safety checks to ensure these key areas are fully prepared.

HiQ's comprehensive eight point winter health check covers the following areas:

1. Tyres: checking and adjusting pressures on all five tyres, including tread depth and wheel alignment

2. Battery: check battery and clean and grease terminals.

3. Windscreen: check condition of front and rear wiper blades, washers and headlamps.

4. Lights and horns: check condition of side, tail, main, dip, stop, reverse, indicators, hazard, fog and spot lights

5. Engine: check engine oil and filter, run engine, check for leaks

6. Exhaust: Inspect and report on the condition of the exhaust

7. Fan belt: inspect fan belt and adjust if necessary

8. Coolant hose: Inspect hoses and fasteners, radiators and connections, antifreeze and check for leaks

Stuart Jackson, chairman of TyreSafe, backed HiQ's winter message, after independent research commissioned by the organisation revealed that more than half of UK motorists felt less safe when driving in the winter.

He said: "Their biggest worry is that they will be involved in more accidents as the roads feel more slippery. With their additional levels of grip, winter weather tyres could allay this fear for many drivers."

*From 2006 to 2010, road accidents resultant from slippery roads has risen from nine to 12 per cent.

Statistics sought from the Department for Transport reported road casualties in GB 2010. These stats present general analysis from accidents reported to police in 2010.