A Guide to Winter Driving
It’s that time again (yes, already!) when the weather and road conditions demand that we take additional safety measures when planning and undertaking road journeys.
The British weather is unpredictable at the best of times and certainly the last two winters have seen widespread snow and ice for prolonged periods. With past temperatures regularly falling below -10C, severe adverse weather conditions brought the country to an almost stand still; snow-related accidents and incidents, road closures and disruption to services hit an all-time high and much of this hit with minimum advanced warning.
If only one lesson may be learned from this, it should be that if you must drive, if your journey is absolutely essential, ensure that you are prepared for the conditions and any eventuality resulting from them.
Adverse weather conditions cause far more issues than just Road Traffic Incidents (RTIs). Vehicle breakdowns are much more likely to occur during very cold weather; the AA recorded its busiest day ever on Mon 4th of Jan 10 and then again, less than 12 months later, on Monday 20 December 2010 when their patrols handled more than 28,000 breakdowns. Bottom line – in winter, it’s even more important to ensure your vehicle has been checked (preferably by a professional) for pre-winter safety and serviceability:
Lights: Check all lights are in working order and free from snow & ice. Ideally, carry a spare bulb pack.
Prior to undertaking any lengthy journeys, you may wish to consider taking the following items with you in case of an emergency:Torch, First Aid Kit, Spare Bulbs & Fuses, Warning Triangle, De-icer & Scraper, Small Shovel, Food & Drink/Flask, High Visibility Vest Blankets
Consider adjusting your driving style to suit the weather conditions; bear in mind that, when roads are affected by snow and ice, stopping distances can be 10 TIMES LONGER or more! Consider reducing your speed and leave a significantly longer gap to reduce your speed, thereby allowing for extra room to slow down and stop. You may need to use a higher than usual gear to maintain traction on slow, uphill trecks. Manoeuvre gently around corners and bends to maintain the best possible traction and definitely avoid harsh braking/accelerating.
The following web address is for the ‘Lincolnshire Gritting Route Plan’, which shows highlighted routes of local roads that are included in the local authority grit plan.
Winter driving can be dangerous and somewhat daunting to those who are ill prepared for the onset of bad weather – please take every precaution to avoid being caught out.
The Mechanical Transport Trade Training Team