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Winter weather driving tips- Driving in Ice and Snow

Date: 06-01-2021

We hope everyone reading this is safe and well. What is most important at this time, is the health and well-being of everyone. Please follow government advise stay home and stay save but if you have to make an essential journey here is some basic advise which will assist you and our emergency departments to deal with Covid19 related issues and not road collisions.

It’s not just wet weather you need to be prepared for. We have compiled a small list of what to have handy in your car and a few crucial items to keep you safe and prepared if you get caught out on the roads. Winter is dynamic. It changes very quickly and does catch people out. Being prepared could save a lot of time and stress, not just for you but also for emergency services.

•Before setting off, check the news and weather to see if there is anything that may affect your journey - adverse weather, traffic reports or road closures. Bear in mind that weather conditions may be different at your destination.
• How many people run their car below 1/4 of a tank? This leaves you at risk of breaking down in vulnerable locations. Keep fuel level above half during periods of cold weather.
• Lights – ensure all lights are working as they should and lenses are kept clean. This is key to maintaining good visibility to other road users.
• Windscreen Washers – it is illegal, an NCT failure and dangerous to use a car with an empty washer bottle. Keep it topped up with the correct ratio of water and screen wash to reduce the risk of freezing and maximise the cleaning efficiency.
• Wiper Blades – these should be in one piece. Free of splits and not worn. If they smear or create lines then replace. Visibility may already be difficult during heavy rain / snow. Good wipers will help.
• Fluid levels – keep engine oil and radiator level topped up.
• Tyres – critical for keeping you on the road. During wet / Snowy times, grip is essential. Less grip, longer stopping distances and less handling capability. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. Don’t let them get this low heading into winter. Change them at 2-3mm for safety.

• Look out for motorcyclists and pedal cyclists who may have to swerve suddenly to avoid ice patches or other obstructions. Give gritter lorries plenty of room to operate if they are spreading salt and pass them with care if you are overtaking them.

• In urban areas take extra care when manoeuvring around parked vehicles and when approaching pedestrian crossings and junctions. On rural routes drive with care when approaching bends and for unexpected hazards.

Expect Fewer Miles On A Charge

All vehicles, whether they run on fuel or kilowatts, become less energy-efficient in cold weather. The typical internal combustion engine vehicle can see its fuel mileage drop by around 20 percent in the cold, and this effect tends to be more pronounced with electric cars.

The unfortunate truth is that cold temperatures can substantially hamper both a battery’s performance and its ability to accept a charge. So make allowance for this change on your journey. Also be very conscious that other road users may not hear your electric vehicle approaching.

The key to driving in winter months is this: perform slow and gentle manoeuvres. Reduce speed & don’t be aggressive. Once you lose control on ice or snow, you become a passenger. The best advice I can give anyone if you do have to drive is this: to be able to drive on a snowy or icy surface, keep speeds and engine revs low, do not use first gear to move away. Always use second or third gear and this will make a massive difference and reduce the chance of the drive wheels spinning and you getting stuck. Increase the distance between you and the car in front. Stopping distances for ice/snow can be up to 10 times longer than usual. Slow down on icy roads.

Inside the Car

So now we’ve spoke about the car, what should you carry inside it? These items below could make things easier if for example if you break down on a motorway and have to wait for recovery.
• A warm coat or blanket
• A torch, either with spare batteries or a wind up type.
• A shovel
• A ice scraper/ De-icer
• A pair of sun glasses -low sun this time of the year can be very blinding.
• A mobile phone – fully charged or with a in car charger
• Some food or Drink.
• Suitable footwear in case you need to walk
• Any essential medication if you regularly need it.
• Your wallet.

This is just a small guide to helping you on a journey during the winter months. There are of course many things to consider. If the weather is severe, why risk going out at all? Don’t go to look at floods, don’t drive to remote locations to look at the snow or take photos, and yes, it does happen. Plan your route, think about stopping locations. Let people know when and which way you are travelling. If travelling in adverse conditions, allow more time. Slow down. It’s better to get there late than never.

Our final word is plan and be prepared. Don’t become complacent thinking it’ll never happen to you. It can happen to anyone. Always expect the unexpected.

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