Driving in the winter is very different than in other times of the year. Adverse weather and longer periods of darkness makes driving more hazardous.
Most of us have very little experience of driving in extreme conditions, such as snow, so take some time to consider how it affects your driving. Don't just drive as normal.
Sometimes conditions can be extreme, as we have found out over recent winters, with prolonged periods of heavy snow and floods.
In very bad conditions, avoid driving completely, unless you absolutely have to make the journey and driving is the only option.
Prepare your vehicle
It’s a good idea to have your vehicle fully serviced before winter starts and have the anti-freeze tested. You can also do your own checks, making sure that the:
· Lights are clean and working;
· Battery is fully charged;
· Windscreen, wiper blades and other windows are clean, and the washer bottle filled with screen wash;
· Tyre condition, tread depth and pressure are legal / correct (of all the tyres, including the spare);
· Brakes are working well;
· Fluids are kept topped up, especially windscreen wash (to the correct concentration to prevent it freezing), anti-freeze and oil.
If this seems unnecessary, take a moment to imagine yourself stranded in your car overnight, due to a snow storm or floods. How would you stay warm? What would you eat and drink? If you must drive in these conditions, it is recommended that you carry:
· Tow rope;
· A shovel;
· Wellington boots;
· A hazard warning triangle;
· De-icing equipment;
· First aid kit (in good order);
· A working torch;
· A car blanket;
· Warm clothes;
· Emergency Rations (including hot drink in a flask – non-alcoholic, of course);
· Mobile Phone (fully charged).
Prepare your journey
Listen to local/national weather broadcasts and travel bulletins – especially for the areas you will be driving through.
As conditions can change rapidly, check them regularly and be prepared to change your plans if conditions on your route worsen.
If conditions are very bad, and the emergency services are recommending that people don’t travel, then avoid making your journey unless it is absolutely necessary:
Can you postpone your trip?
Can you travel by other means, or avoid the need for the journey completely?
Can communication by using the phone or email negate your need to travel?