Winter conditions cause driving chaos
Guide to winter driving
Once the snow starts to fall or the gales being to howl, our driving skills are pushed to the limit - so do you know how to drive properly in bad conditions? A few moments thinking about it now, could save you from problems out on the road.
We often know when bad weather is coming, but even when severe winter weather is expected, almost half of road users are not taking proper precautions - according to the Highways Agency.
Research has revealed that almost half of road users continue to make their journey, despite the forecast.
As few as a third would carry a 'winter weather kit' to see them through a journey and more than a fifth of those questioned said they would not check for weather warnings before setting out.
"We have built up a new relationship with the Met Office... to ensure we can give road users the best possible warnings and information when they have to travel in poor conditions," said Ginny Clarke, chief highways engineer.
"We also want road users to be better prepared, to carry the right equipment and to take note of the information we and the Met Office are providing - so that they can make better decisions on whether they need to travel when the weather is bad," she added.
Delaying a journey for a couple of hours can make the difference between a completed trip and a difficult drive in poor conditions.
"People go into panic mode, despite the fact we have warnings," said Mike Reece of the Drive Alive motoring school in Diss, Norfolk.
"We must realise that we have to adapt our driving style to suit the conditions and be prepared," he added.
When driving in heavy rain and strong winds drivers should always slow down and keep their distance from the vehicle in front.
Is your car ready for the winter?
After driving through flood water, test your brakes before you start increasing your speed again.
Drivers should remember that other vehicles on the road may also be affected by strong winds, especially when overtaking so check your mirrors for other vehicles.
Driving experts say you should prepare yourself and your car for winter driving.
"You need to think about when you last had your car serviced. Think about sorting your battery out, to make sure you've got anti-freeze in your engine and lots of screen wash in your water bottle," said Norfolk's casualty reduction officer, Michael Edney.
"It's also worth thinking about having some warm clothing in the car in case you get stuck in snow.
"If you are stuck for hours and hours in traffic don't run your engine all the time. Just run it long enough to run the car right through - leaving the window open a little bit for ventilation - and then you won't go through your petrol as quickly and you'll keep yourself warm.
"Try and raise your feet off the floor as that's where it gets cold and that will work it's way through your body, so insulate yourself from the ground up," he added.
Before setting out:
On the road
Ice and snow drastically reduce the ability of your tyres to grip the road, which means that slowing down, speeding up and changing direction all become hazardous. The trick to driving in these conditions is to be a smooth as possible.
The Highways Agency information line is 0845 750 4030
last updated: 07/04/2008 at 10:05
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