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August 19, 2014Driving in the winter weather conditions

Be alert, slow down, and stay safe!

Driving in the winter is very different than at other times of the year. Weather conditions can be unpredictable, placing extra demands on your vehicle and your driving skills. Making sure you are well prepared could make a serious difference when you least expect it. Here’s some advice for what to do on winter roads and weather conditions.

There are 3 key rules to safe winter driving – remember these as you venture out:

  • Drive according to highway and weather conditions.
  • Maintain a safe following distance between you and the vehicle in front.
  • Avoid situations where you may have to brake suddenly.

Visibility is critical!

It is essential that you and your vehicle are seen in low-light conditions, and when snow is falling. Whenever visibility is poor, turn on the vehicle’s full lighting system.

Be Prepared — Is Your Car Fit and Recently Serviced?

  • Don’t wait for winter to have your tyres, battery, engine, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, exhaust, heater/defroster, windscreen wipers and ignition system checked. Regular servicing will make certain you are safe to travel.
  • Keep your petrol tank sufficiently full — at least half a tank is recommended, as journey duration and delays are harder to predict in winter weather.
  • Always be sure you have sufficient fluid for the windscreen washers – gritted road surfaces and slush will mean you need to clean your windscreen more frequently. Carry top up liquid in the boot of your car.

Winter Tyres

Specialist winter tyres have been proven to provide better safety and comfort than standard tyres in wintery motoring conditions like ice, frost, slush and even wet roads. In fact any time the temperature dips below +7 degrees centigrade, it is recommended you switch to winter tyres for a safer, more efficient drive.

What to do when snow falls

Most of us have very little experience of driving in extreme driving conditions. Severe winter driving conditions may make you nervous, uncomfortable, or fearful which is likely to affect your driving confidence. The Emergency Services always recommend that you stay off the road unless your trip is absolutely necessary. If you must travel, then proper preparation is critical.

Clear all snow and ice from windows, lights, mirrors and the roof. After starting your vehicle, do not commence driving until any mist has cleared from the interior of the windows to ensure you have good all-around visibility.

If you get caught in a snowdrift:

  • Do not leave your vehicle
  • Don’t run the engine to keep warm
  • Call your breakdown service or the emergency services and ask for assistance.

Keep a Winter Driving Survival Kit in your boot!

It is a good idea to keep some essential supplies in your car, that will help to provide comfort and safety for you and your passengers should you become stranded. Recommended items include:

  • Tow Rope
  • A shovel
  • Wellington boots
  • A hazard warning triangle
  • De-icing equipment
  • Screen ice scraper
  • First aid kit (in good order)
  • A working torch
  • A blanket
  • Warm clothes
  • Emergency Rations (chocolate bar, hot beverage in a flask)
  • Mobile Phone (fully charged)
  • Torch and batteries

For information and advice to ensure you are safe to set out, take a look at RoSPA’s Take Vehicle Checks Advice short film on YouTube which is packed with useful advice including how to check your tyre pressure, look for wear and tear and to top up the various fluids in your car:

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