Are You Prepared for Safe Winter Driving ?
The British winter is unpredictable.
Bad weather can strike suddenly, so please make sure you & your vehicle are prepared for these conditions in case bad weather strikes in your area.
We are likely to see sub-zero temperatures at some point in winter, which means frost and icy patches on our roads.
Now is the time to give your car a once-over before winter conditions take hold.
Bad weather can strike suddenly and more severely than you expect, so it’s really important to be proactive, rather than reactive.
Road Safety Advice
During extremely bad weather conditions:
- Check the local and national weather forecasts
- Check for weather warnings
- Listen to local and national radio for travel information
- Tell someone at your destination what time you expect to arrive
- Make sure you are equipped with warm clothes, food, boots and a torch – in snowy conditions, It’s a good idea to keep a winter survival kit in your vehicle. Having essential supplies can provide some comfort and safety for you and your passengers should you become stranded.
What kit to carry please see: http://sx4x4r.uk/winter-emergency-kit-what-to-carry-in-your-vehicle/
- Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out and carry a screen scraper and de-icer
• Remember! All that is keeping your car in a straight line, is the four small patches of rubber that have contact on the road, so check your tyres. The legal requirement is a tread depth of 1.6mm.
• Clear all snow off the roof, windows, bonnet and lights. Note! It is not only dangerous to drive with snowy or frosted windows, it is an offence that carries a fine and 3 penalty points.
• Demist inside windows if necessary. For fastest demisting, use the AC with the temperature set at ‘hot’. This will also clear condensation from other windows.
• Check water jets have not frozen.
Check the following:
- Engine antifreeze levels
- Engine Oil
- Windshield washer anti freeze fluid
- Heating system
- Windshield defroster
- Slowing down
- Keeping a greater distance between yourself and the vehicle in front, (increase the 2 second rule to 4 seconds or even more)
Ignore this rule at your peril, if the car in front brakes suddenly, you will be too close for comfort.
- Setting aside extra time to complete your journey
The sun can be a severe hazard during the winter months as it is low in the sky, the glare off wet roads can increase this hazard, slow down.
Winter driving conditions can be very difficult. Yet with a little care and prior planning, it is possible to minimise the risk and maximise safety for you, your passengers and other road users.
Driving In Snow & Ice
Follow these tips for safe winter driving:
- Wash the car frequently to get rid of the salt and dirt that builds up over the winter.
- Always keep a full tank of fuel – you never know when you might get delayed.
- On colder days be particularly careful on tree lined roads – the trees prevent the sun’s warmth from reaching the road, which may still be icy when all around has thawed, Use extra care when approaching shaded areas such as these, bridges, and flyovers. These sections of road typically freeze much sooner in cold weather and stay frozen long after the sun has risen.
• Stay in control; stay alert and slow down to a safe manageable speed to fit the conditions.
• In lowlight conditions it is critical for drivers to see and be seen. When heavy snow is falling or blowing across the carriageway turn on your headlights.
• Watch your speedometer; falling snow can have a mesmerizing effect creating a feeling of slow motion, when you may actually be speeding. Speed is a major factor in snow and ice-related crashes.
• Use your wipers and screen wash for maximum visibility and switch on your demisters if necessary. For fastest demisting, use the AC with the temperature set at ‘hot’. This will also clear condensation from other windows.
• Switch off the radio you will need all your concentration.
• If it is difficult to see the road surface, Street lamps and telegraph poles can be a useful guide as they tend to follow the contour of the road.
• Drive defensively and always at a speed that will allow you to stop well within the distance you can see clearly.
• Be aware that your braking system is likely to handle differently from normal road conditions, so use your brakes with caution.
• Watch out for cyclists and pedestrians, parked or stranded vehicles, plus hidden obstacles covered by snow.
• Be patient, avoid passing, overtaking, changing lanes or crossing traffic.
• Do not accelerate to get away from a vehicle that is following too closely. Look for a lay-by to pull into and wait until the car passes before continuing your journey.
• When taking corners or driving round bends in the road. Reduce speed before taking the bend. Any sudden acceleration or deceleration while turning may cause a skid. Controlled speed and smooth steering will help prevent wheels from skidding on a turn. If tyres lose their grip, ease off the accelerator, do not brake and turn your front wheels to the direction you want to travel.
• When approaching an icy hill, pick a path that will allow the most traction. Head for unpacked snow or powder where you’ll get a better grip. Build speed gradually before reaching the hill and stay in a low or middle gear.
• Use the same method when traveling down a hill. Avoid quick gear changes and heavy breaking as these lead to skidding.
• Avoid sudden turns of the steering wheel or abrupt braking and accelerating as this can also cause you to skid.
• Watch out for black and shiny road surfaces as this could be BLACK ICE. These areas can cause your vehicle to suddenly lose traction. Don’t panic, slow down and keep your foot off the brake, a steady slow speed is what is needed on black ice.
• Avoid skidding by driving carefully and smoothly. The gentle use of the accelerator, steering wheel and particularly brakes will help keep you in control.
• If your rear wheels start to skid, gently steer in the direction you want to travel. Do not brake, ease off the accelerator and if your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right. As you try to recover control, you may find that your rear wheels start to slide in the other direction, again ease your steering wheel in that direction. You may have to steer left and right a few times before you regain control and traction is once again delivered to your wheels.
• If you feel your front wheels slide, do not brake, ease of the accelerator, depress the clutch or put the engine in neutral. Do not try to steer immediately, let the front wheels bring your speed down as they slide sideways and as traction returns, steer in the direction you want to go. When control is achieved, put the car in drive or release the clutch and accelerate gently forwards.
• On snowy, wet and slushy roads, large vehicles can blow snow and slush on to your windscreen, leading to a sudden loss of visibility. Always drive defensively and leave enough space to avoid their snow spray.
• Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
• Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
• Watch out for gritter Lorries. When approaching them from behind, slow down, stay back from the salty grit spray and be patient. Only pass when it is safe to do so.
• Turn back if you think the conditions are too treacherous. Driving in snow and ice can be stressful and can cause eye strain, take regular rest breaks, it is better to arrive home late than not at all.
If you get into trouble
Do not use a mobile phone while driving.
Stop somewhere safe or ask a passenger to make the call.
On a motorway it is best to use a roadside emergency telephone because the breakdown/emergency services will be able to locate you easily.
If you have to use a mobile phone, make sure you know your location from the numbers on the marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder, or the name of the A or B road you are on and area you are in, if your outside the vehicle stand on the verge or behind the barrier.
Abandoned vehicles can hold up rescue vehicles and snowploughs.
To ensure that the road is cleared as quickly as possible, try to get your vehicle out of the road if safe to do so, stay with your vehicle until help arrives.
If you have to leave your vehicle to get help, make sure other drivers can see you and it, use a warning triangle.
If you get Stranded in traffic for a long time and you have no fuel & are cold
DO NOT leave your vehicle to walk huge distances in freezing conditions.
one suggestion is to seek another appropriate & occupants vehicle near you that has fuel and heater running that you could get in with to keep warm.
If you become snowbound in severe weather
It is very rare in the UK that vehicles become trapped in snow, but sadly it has happened. Reading the following advice will help if it happens to you.
• If you are trapped in snow and if you have a mobile phone call 999 to let the police know of your emergency.
• If you do not have a phone or the area has poor reception, stay in your vehicle until help arrives. It provides excellent temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to loose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
• Tie a brightly colored cloth to the radio antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep one interior light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of battery power and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
• Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
• Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include placing floor mats, newspapers or paper maps between yourself and your clothing. If you have passengers, huddling together will preserve warmth.
• From time to time, slightly turn down a window to freshen up the stale air and to guard against carbon monoxide poisoning.
• Run the engine and heater periodically just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve fuel.
Keep the lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice and snow.
- Keep your battery fully charged
- Adjust your driving to road conditions
- Use dipped headlights and reduce your speed
- Be aware that hail, heavy snow and rain reduce visibility
- Add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer bottles