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WINTER DRIVING

We are lucky in the UK, that during the winter we don’t get to experience the more extreme weather conditions that they do in other countries. However, what this means for many road users is that when heavy rain, dense fog or icy conditions do occur they don’t know how to drive properly or what the rules are regarding the condition of their car.
Let’s start by considering the car and what needs to be done to make sure it’s ready to drive in wintery conditions.

Car Safety Tips
What to take with you
It’s worth making sure you have all of the following in your car before you begin your journey:
1. Snow shovel
2. First aid kit
3. Ice scraper
4. Blanket
5. Torch
6. Warm clothing
7. Fully charged mobile phone


Rule 229 of the Highway Code says that all lights, windows and mirrors must be clear of snow and ice before you begin any journey. It also states that your number plates must be clearly visible, and while there is no requirement to remove snow from the roof of your car,  it could fall onto your windscreen or into the path of other drivers so it’s best to remove it if you can.
Remember to clear the back windows and front windscreen too as having these frosted over will increase the size of your blind spots.

Selecting the right tyres
You’ll want to have at least 3mm of tread on your tyres and if possible you should change to winter or ‘all season’ tyres as the rubber used in their construction gives better grip in cold and wet conditions.
It is thought that letting air out of the tyres increases grip. On road cars and on UK roads, letting the air out doesn’t really help and it can make steering more difficult.
If you have snow chains, then you  should really only use these when there is deep enough snow. If you use them when there’s only a gentle dusting, then you could end up damaging your car and the road.

Stopping distances on ice
In most parts of the UK, we’re more likely to experience ice rather than snow so it’s worth remembering that stopping distances can be around 10 times further on ice. That’s a massive 120 metres at only 20 mph.

Pulling away and braking
 To avoid wheel spin pull away in 2nd gear and apply the accelerator gently.
Everything takes more time when driving in icy conditions so braking needs to be done at a slower pace too and that means creating a bigger distance between you and the car in front.
Tyres will make less noise when going over ice so if it becomes quieter in the car then that could be a sign you’ve hit a patch of ice.
Remember do not stamp on your brakes as this can cause you to skid

Driving in Fog
8. Using your lights properly
In the Highway Code, it says that you must use your headlights when your visibility is seriously reduced and when you can see less than 100 metres. In dense fog, you should also use your front and rear fog lights.
Fog lights help you to see and to be seen by other motorists and pedestrians However, it is illegal to use your fog lights when you’re not driving in fog, and the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations (RVLR) 25 & 27 state that when there is no fog you must turn your fog lights off.

Take time to listen
When approaching a junction, you may not be able to see as far into the road as normal, so open the window, turn off the radio and listen out for any oncoming traffic. When you feel that it’s safe to drive away, do so in a positive and controlled way as being too tentative could put you or others at risk.

Stopping distances in rain
They’ll at least double in the rain and wet conditions so if you’re travelling at 30 mph you can expect to take at least 46 metres to come to a stop. Remember the rule, ‘Only a fool breaks the 2-second rule’? Well, that becomes 4 seconds in the wet so keep that extra distance between you and the car in front.

The impact of spray
Spray from passing cars can affect your visibility so you have to ensure that your windscreen wipers are working properly. This means giving them a clean before you set off  and you should also ensure you have enough windscreen washer in the tank to clear the muck that gets thrown up in these conditions.
Don’t brake suddenly if you’re temporarily blinded by a wall of water on your windshield

Watching out for pedestrians and cyclists
Care should also be taken when driving past pedestrians or overtaking cyclists. It’s illegal to purposefully splash pedestrians with water from a puddle so you need to slow down if you notice one ahead. The spray from your car can also interfere with a cyclist’s visibility, so again, you should give them ample space when going past.

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