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Winter Driving Tips

Jan 15, 2013

Winter driving top tips from Dealer Option Ltd...
We know from recent history that the UK’s weather is unpredictable and following the mild autumn/winter we've had this year so far, may leave drivers unprepared for the winter weather to come. To prepare for the eventuality of being caught in snow, fog or high winds we have created this winter driving guide with you in mind! Please forward this useful information on to your friends, relatives and colleagues, helping to keep them safe too!

Key skills for risk reduction: 

Concentration  Observation  Anticipation  Space  Time

Mobility and Journey Planning 
Assuming that you absolutely have to travel, and there is no alternative, please make sure your journey is well planned. Check that your planned route is open with the Highways Agency - using main roads where possible and making contingency plans in case conditions change. Take a look at local and national weather information either on the Met office site, radio or television. Also, make sure you allow for realistic travel times for the conditions - visit the AA routeplanner for more information.  

In extreme weather conditions  
Ask yourself is my journey essential? If your journey is unavoidable:
•    See that all windows, mirrors, are clear from snow and ice. Snow on your vehicle can pose a risk to other road users when it falls off.
•    Check to see if you have a full tank of fuel.
•    Let someone know your destination and your expected time of arrival - allowing extra time.
•    Take a mobile phone if you have one, but remember you could break down in an area of no signal.
•    Take warm high visibility clothing, hot drinks, food, boots, a torch and shovel as well.
•    Use main roads which have been salted - a map of gritted routes can be found on council websites.

Check your vehicle 
Ensure your vehicle has been regularly serviced and remember your battery has to work much harder in the winter. Check tyres have a minimum of 2mm tread depth and are inflated correctly (including the spare). Windscreen wipers and washers need to be working properly and in cold temperatures use high strength screen-wash. Also, check that your lights are fully working and clear of road dirt.  

If you do breakdown 
If you do breakdown on a motorway use the motorway phone to alert emergency services to your exact location. Alternatively use the location markers found on the hard shoulder. Do not stay in your vehicle on the hard shoulder of a motorway.
If you do have to leave your vehicle, make yourself visible to others. If you have to abandon your vehicle, give local police the details and park safely to avoid obstruction to maintenance vehicles such as snow ploughs when they are trying to treat the roads. 
Adjust your driving accordingly 
Fog is especially a danger in autumn and winter, and is a major cause of collisions. Slow down, keep your distance, and turn your lights on in fog. Ensure that you drive very slowly using dipped headlights. Use fog lights if visibility is seriously reduced, but remember to switch them off when visibility improves. Don't hang on the tail lights of the vehicle in front - this gives you a false sense of security and means you may be driving too close. Don't speed up suddenly - even if it seems to be clearing, you can suddenly find yourself back in thick fog. Please be especially aware of cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.
Watch out for floods, it's best not to enter floodwater at all - if you can take an alternative route, do so. If you enter floodwater drive slowly in first gear, but keep the engine speed high by slipping the clutch - this will stop you from stalling. Go through the water one vehicle at a time. Avoid the deepest water, which is generally near the kerb. Don't attempt to cross if the water seems too deep. Watch others! Remember - test your brakes a few times after you are through the flood before you drive at normal speed.
Ice, snow and slush drastically reduce the ability of your tyres to grip the road, which means that slowing down, speeding up, or changing direction all become hazardous. The trick to driving in these conditions is to be as smooth as possible. Drive slowly, allowing extra room to slow down and stop. It can take ten times longer to stop in icy conditions than on a dry road. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin, manoeuvre gently, and avoid harsh braking and acceleration. To brake on ice and snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, allow your speed to fall, and use the brake pedal gently. If you skid, ease off the accelerator but do not brake suddenly.
Safety Equipment

Recommended items to carry in your vehicle:
•    High Visibility jacket
•    Torch
•    Warning triangle
•    Serviceable spare tyre
•    First aid kit
•    De-icer & screen wash
•    Jump leads
•    Sunglasses for winter sunshine

In extreme weather:

•    High grip boots /shoes
•    Carpet or mat to place under tyres if stuck in snow
•    Foil blanket
•    Warm drink and provisions


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