Are you prepared for the dark days and icy roads ahead this month? If you have to travel, please put safety first and make sure you and your vehicle are well prepared to keep everyone as safe as possible. Here’s some helpful advice from West Yorkshire Police to see you along the way to a safe journey:-
If possible, avoid driving in snow and other treacherous conditions. Never set off when it’s snowing heavily or if it’s forecast to snow, and avoid driving if you possibly can in other bad conditions like fog, heavy rain and ice. Consider alternatives like public transport. If you drive to work, speak to your employer in advance about home-working arrangements when the weather is bad, especially if you live in a rural area prone to flooding or snow.
Check forecasts and plan your route carefully. In bad weather, major roads are more likely to be cleared and gritted. Allow plenty of time for potential hold-ups. The Met Office provides up to date forecasts, and issues warnings when severe weather is likely.
Even if you avoid setting off in dangerous weather conditions, you could get caught out, so be prepared by:
– Ensuring your vehicle is well-maintained through an up-to-date MOT, regular service, and regular walk-round checks by you.
– Regularly checking tyres to ensure they’re in good condition and have a tread depth of at least 3mm to be safe in the wet.
– Making sure there is anti-freeze in your radiator and windscreen washer bottle.
– Keeping an ice-scraper and de-icer in your vehicle at all times in winter.
– Packing a winter driving kit in case of emergency. This might include: a torch; cloths; a blanket and warm clothes; food and drink; first-aid kit; spade; warning triangle; and high-visibility vest.
– Always take a well-charged phone in case of emergencies, but don’t be tempted to use it when driving.
– Car batteries are more likely to die in winter, so take steps to ensure yours doesn’t. If your car battery is old (more than five years) or there is sign of it struggling to start the car, get it checked by your garage and replaced if needed.
– Clear ice, snow and condensation completely from your windscreen and all windows before setting off. Clear snow off the roof of your vehicle too, as it might fall and obscure your vision during your journey.
CAREFUL AND CAUTIOUS DRIVING
If you do get caught in bad weather, follow these steps to minimise the dangers.
Slow right down: if visibility is poor or the road is wet or icy, it will take you longer to react to hazards and you should reduce your speed accordingly. Take corners very slowly, and reduce speed further if your view of the road ahead is obscured. Always stay well within the speed limit and look out for temporary speed limit signs. Never speed up suddenly if fog seems to have cleared. Fog can be patchy and you may suddenly re-enter it.
Maintain a safe gap behind the vehicle in front: the gap between you and the vehicle in front is your braking space in a crisis. In wet conditions you should leave four seconds, and in ice or snow, drop right back as much as possible. Stopping distances are double in the wet, and can be 10 times greater in icy weather. Never hang on someone else’s tail lights. This can provide a false sense of security and mean you’re not fully focused on the road.
Be extra vigilant for people and hazards: be aware that people on foot, bicycles, motorbikes and horses are harder to spot in adverse weather. Drive slowly and cautiously so you are able to spot vulnerable road users in plenty of time and not put them in danger. Look out for signs warning of hazards, people, adverse conditions or temporary lower speed limits.
Stay in control: avoid harsh braking and acceleration, and carry out manoeuvres very slowly and with extra care.
Use lights: put lights on in gloomy weather and when visibility is reduced. Use front and rear fog lights in dense fog. Remember to switch off fog lights when visibility improves.
Have a safe journey!