Do You Feel Safe Driving In Winter Conditions?

There can be little doubt that driving conditions can be particularly tricky during the winter months.

Officers from police forces across the area have all been issuing advice to motorists to keep themselves safe when they are out and about.

A spokesman from Derbyshire Police said: “Winter motoring requires special care and a little preparation if you are to avoid a breakdown or accident.”

 

Rule 229 of the Highway Code states that, before you set off:

  • You MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all of your windows;
  • You MUST ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible;
  • Make sure the mirrors are clear and the windows are de-misted thoroughly;
  • Remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users; and
  • Check your planned route is clear of delays and that no further snowfalls or severe weather are predicted.

Officers have also advised motorists that it could be extremely useful to have an emergency kit in their vehicles of a de-icer, ice scraper, torch, warm clothing, boots, a first aid kit, jump leads and a shovel. If drivers have these items in their car, they should be able to get themselves out of a tricky situation. 

Driving safely on icy roads:

  1. Drive at slower speeds. Officers encourage motorists to drive much slower than normal and leave more room between the car in front in case they need to stop. This is because the roads could be slippery and could case the car to skid. Breaking gently will reduce the chance of skidding.
  2. Turn on all lights. Cars should be driving with their lights on when it is foggy, even if it is the middle of the day, so that other motorists can see them on the roads.
  3. Clear any snow off the top of the vehicle. It can slip down over the windscreen and obscure the view or blow off onto following vehicles.
  4. Be careful on infrequently used roads. Even when the temperatures are above freezing, ice could appear in shady areas or on exposed roadways, such as bridges. If the roads are not used by a lot of people, the surface might not have been broken and ice could cause problems.
  5. Skidding. If a vehicle skids, drivers should depress the clutch and turn the steering wheel into the direction of the skid. When the vehicle has straighted, steer along the road. Do not brake as it will lock wheels up and could cause skidding again.

If you get stuck or stranded:

Following the advice from Derbyshire Constabulary should mean that you won’t get stranded in bad weather, but some things are unavoidable and it is important to know what to do.

  1. Do not spin your wheels. If you are stick in a soft surface, such as mud or snow, you should not spin your wheels, as this will only dig you in deeper. Turn the wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  2. Clear snow out of the way of the car. Use a shovel to clear as much snow out of the way of the wheels and underneath the car. Pouring sand, cat litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels will help to get traction and get the car out.
  3. Do not leave your car. If you find yourself stranded, police officers have warned not to leave the car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to help and you are certain it will help your situation. To attract attention, hang a brightly coloured cloth from the radio aerial.
  4. Protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia. Use woollen items and a blanket to keep warm and eat food and drink carried in the vehicle.

Preparing for winter:

It is important to make sure your car is ready for winter. Give your car a proper check-up, including:

  • Check ignition, brakes, wiring, hoses and fan belts;
  • Changing and adjusting the spark plugs;
  • Check air, fuel and emission filters;
  • Inspect the distributor;
  • Check the battery – most last between two and four years;
  • Check the tyres of air, sidewall wear and tread depth
  • Check anti-freeze levels;
  • Service the vehicle;
  • Keep lights clean and check bulbs regularly so you’ll be prepared for lower visibility;
  • Make sure wiper blades aren’t worn so you can keep your windscreen as clean as possible for the extra spray, ice and rain;
  • Dirty windows and mirrors can make it hard to see as the low winter sun hits – make sure they are kept clean.

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