The road safety charity Brake, along with the AA, RAC and the Gov.UK website, has urged drivers to follow the ‘A, B,C of staying safe in bad weather and winter conditions’. These A, B,C’s stands for; Avoid Driving, Be Prepared, and Careful, cautious driving.’
These always sounds simple, but a quick traffic report update on a Friday afternoon is full of orange and red lines and traffic warnings of accidents/ incidents (I’m looking at you M5, M6 & M25!!) So with the best advice is that if you don’t have to drive or travel then don’t but public transport or walking for some is just not possible so if you must drive, ensure that you are confident enough to be in full control while you’re behind the wheel and remember that driving at a slow speed in normal flowing traffic can be just as dangerous as speeding!
Being prepared is something that every driver should do before making a journey and journey but especially in bad conditions, high winds, fog, heavy rain or pretty much any type of weather the good old British Forecast can throw at us.
Ensure your vehicle is well-maintained
Ensure your vehicle is well-maintained, this is done simply (and legally) by ensuring there’s an up-to-date MOT, regular service, and a walk around check by the driver.
Regularly checking the tyres of your vehicle and replacing when necessary (a tread dept of at least 3mm to be safe in the wet)
To be extra prepared when undertaking a long journey, pack an emergency kit. They don’t take much room, and without sounding to dramatic, could save your life or at least keep you warm and safe. This could include small simple things like, torch, cloths, warm blanket, extra jumper, warm socks, food, drink, first aid kit, spade, warning triangle, high vis vest. Try to ensure you have a fully charge phone or a why of charging your phone if you do get stranded (although don’t be tempted to use it while driving!)
Car batteries are the biggest call out for the AA & RAC during the winter months as they are more likely to die in the cold. If your car battery is old (more then 5 years) or if there are signs it’s struggling, get it checked out by your local garage and replaced if needed.
Clear ice, snow and condensation completely from your windscreen, back window, side windows and mirrors, before setting off.
Driving in heavy rain and flooded area seem inevitable now so remember, keep well back from the vehicle in front of you.
Never attempt to cross a flooded road if you are unsure of the depth (did you know many vehicles only require 2 feet of water to float?)
If driving on a flooded road, stay in first gear with the engine speed high and drive slowly. If the steering becomes unresponsive, ease off the accelerator and gradually slow down, keep calm and don’t try to speed up, the unresponsive steering is when the flood water prevents the tyres from gripping.
Test your brakes immediately after driving through any body of water. Don’t forget to warn your passengers first.
In high winds take extra care when passing over bridges or on open roads exposed to strong winds. If your vehicle is being blown about, slow right down and take care to maintain a steady course. Keep well back and allow plenty of space for motorcycles and high-sided vehicles.
In any situation
The advice that is given is, slow down and maintain a safe gap between you and the vehicle in front! Take corners safely and reduce your speed accordingly to conditions and other drivers. The overall stopping distances are doubled for wet conditions and it takes 10 times longer to stop in snow and ice. For example, for the average sized family car stopping in normal weather conditions at 30mph it takes 75 feet or 6 car lengths, in the rain it will take the same car 150 feet or 12 car lengths.
Be extra careful about hazards and people. Stay in control by avoiding harsh braking and acceleration, make manoeuvres slowly with extra care.
Use your lights (yes, that does include indicators!) put on your normal lights in gloomy weather and use front and rear fog lights when visibility is hugely reduced. Don’t forget to turn them off once visibility improves.
If you follow these tips, you will be prepared for whatever the weather throws at us.