Get in the right gear for safe winter driving

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WARWICKSHIRE Road Safety Partnership is offering advice to motorists in a bid to help them stay safe this winter.

Winter doesn’t officially begin until December 1 but with weather forecasters predicting a colder then average end to the year, motorists are being advised to begin preparing for the onset of winter.

Warwickshire County Councillor Richard Hobbs, portfolio holder for community protection said: “The onset of winter and increased wet and icy conditions presents drivers with additional challenges and dangers. With this in mind we are advising motorists of a few sensible precautions to prepare them and reduce their risk of experiencing a problem or being involved in a collision.”

Adjust your driving to the conditions:

*Allow extra time for journeys

*Be prepared to reduce your speed, particularly if the road is wet or icy or visibility is poor.

*Leave more room between yourself and the vehicle in front to allow for longer stopping distances especially on wet, icy or snow covered roads.

In snow and ice:

*Use a high gear to avoid wheel spin and manoeuvre gently.

*Avoid harsh braking – select a low gear, allow your speed to drop and then apply the brake gently.

In fog:

*Reduce your speed.

*Use dipped headlights.

*Keep well back from the vehicle in front.

Prepare your vehicle:

*Ensure fluids are topped up including anti-freeze and screen wash.

*Check lights are working and clean so that you can see and be seen.

*Check wipers for wear and replace worn blades.

*Check tyre tread and pressure.

*Keep windscreens clean inside and out to ensure good visibility and to reduce the effect of glare.

*Consider giving your vehicle a service or winter check to reduce the risk of breakdown.

Prepare yourself

*If the conditions are poor or bad weather is forecast, ask yourself whether you really need to travel or whether you can wait for conditions to improve.

*Plan your journey carefully. Check weather forecasts and live traffic information to ensure there aren’t any major problems ahead.

*On long journeys take a break from driving at least every two hours, but be prepared to stop more frequently if you feel tired or are losing concentration.

*Get traffic information on the move and be prepared to change your route.

*Arrange breakdown cover so that you can get help if needed.

*Carry an emergency kit in case of break down or delay (maps, torch, ice scraper and de-icer, first aid kit, warm clothes, sensible shoes or boots, high-viz tabard and mobile phone). On longer journeys or if weather conditions require add a shovel, blanket or sleeping bag, food and drink and any medication you may need to take regularly.

Superintendent Adrian McGee, Head of Incident Resolution, with Warwickshire Police said: “We traditionally see an increase in road collisions in November as road users adjust to winter conditions. Longer hours of darkness, damp, greasy or icy conditions, lower temperatures, the glare from a low sun, fog and high winds all contribute to make driving harder.

“However, by preparing your vehicle for a safe journey and making sensible decisions over when to travel and adjusting driving to the prevailing conditions motorists can reduce their risk of collision involvement.”

Darren Clarke, winter specialist for the Highways Agency in West Midlands region, said: “During severe winter weather we ask drivers to check road conditions and the weather forecast before setting out. If conditions are poor, and journeys are not essential, we advise drivers to think about delaying until conditions improve and allowing our winter fleet the chance to treat the roads. We advise that drivers listen to travel bulletins on the radio and take a severe weather emergency kit including warm clothes, food, water, boots, a torch and spade for snow.

“When exceptionally low temperatures are forecast, we also advise motorists to take extra care because of the risk of ice forming on road surfaces. While salt is very effective at reducing the risk of ice formation, at very low temperatures there can still be a risk of ice on road surfaces even when salt has been spread.”

More about the Highways Agency’s winter plans and information about how you can keep informed, online at www.highways.gov.uk/winter.