Winter brings with it snow, cold and Christmas but it also brings a higher rate of breakdowns. Most breakdown services put on extra patrols during cold snaps because the number of breakdowns double. Ice and snow can make roads extra challenging, even for the most experienced driver.
But with some easy preparation you can drive safely on the roads even when snow and ice strikes. The Highway Agency [http://www.highways.gov.uk/traffic-information/seasonal-advice/make-time-for-winter/be-prepared/] suggests you use the POWDERY check list to make sure you are ready to drive in wintry weather:
· PETROL (or diesel). Have you got enough? Do you know where to fillup?
· OIL- check levels once a month
· WATER – check radiator and screen-wash regularly
· DAMAGE- check wipers, lights etc for signs of wear and tear or damage, and make sure windscreens, windows and lights are clear of ice and snow.
· ELECTRICS – check lights, indicators and controls are working properly
· RUBBER TYRES – are they well inflated, legal, with good tread and free from damage?
· YOU – are you fit to drive? Have you slept well? Are you taking any medication(s) that could make it unsafe for you to drive?
You should also check the weather forecast in case any change in the conditions have been predicted.
The Highway Agency also recommend you pack an emergency kit consisting of:
· Ice scraper and de-icer
· Warm clothes and blankets — for you and all passengers
· Torch and spare batteries – or a wind-up torch
· First aid kit
· Jump leads
· A shovel
· Road atlas
· Sunglasses (in case the glare from the snow is too dazzling)
· Food and a thermos with a hot drink
· Any medication you, or other people travelling with you, need to take regularly.
But what should you do once you’re in the car and ready to go?! Those who have been studying their driving theory will know that the stopping distance is 10 times longer when the roads are icy or covered in snow, what is there to know about driving in snow and ice?
For better control you should select and stay in a higher gear, if possible consider moving away in second gear rather than first. This gives you better control. To avoid wheel-spin move away as gently as possible.
Once on the road it is important to get your speed right, not so fast you risk losing control but not too slow that you lose momentum on hills or in traffic. Going down hill avoid using your brakes too much and select a low gear. Braking, steering and acceleration need to be done as smoothly as possible.
It is also a good idea to plan your route going through busy roads as these are more likely to have been gritted. Should you skid remember to take your feet off the pedals and steer! Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of danger.