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Winter driving tips: Do you know what to do?

Winter driving tips: Do you know what to do?

Published at 9:35am 22nd January 2020. (Updated at 10:50am 12th February 2020)

5 minute read

Wiltshire Police has been sharing advice on how to keep yourself safe on the roads in cold, foggy and icy conditions.

With freezing temperatures most nights in recent weeks, we're being asked to make sure we're 'winter ready' before heading out on the roads.

We've also seen the dangers that icy roads can pose, with a car flipping over near Redlynch last month (Tuesday 21st January) and some incidents at Snakey Hill.

Icy Road Winter Driving
Watch for icy roads this winter - whether that's obvious or less visible black ice

Officers have some tips for driving in sunny winter weather, or in fog, as well as advice on being prepared for possible snowy conditions too.

WATCH OUT FOR THE SUN'S GLARE

During the winter, the angle of the sun in the sky can be so low that your visor might not help.

Here are the tips from Wiltshire Police:

  • Reduce your speed
  • Reduce the effect of glare by keeping both the inside and outside of your windscreen clean and grease free
  • If you wear sunglasses (with prescription lenses if necessary), take them off whenever the sun goes in
  • Sunglasses shouldn't be worn in duller weather or at night as they seriously reduce the ability to see
Snowy Roads Winter Driving
We're being encouraged to follow these tips to keep ourselves safe over the winter

TIPS FOR DRIVING IN FOG 

Officers say one of the biggest dangers when driving in fog can be travelling too close to the car in front.

They've said that can pose problems as the reduced visibility can quickly escalate accidents to involve multiple vehicles.

Here's their advice: 

  • Allow plenty of extra time for your journey
  • Check your car before you set off - make sure everything is in good working order, especially the lights
  • Switch on headlights and fog lamps if visibility is reduced
  • If you can see the vehicles to your rear, the drivers behind can see you - switch off your rear fog lamps to avoid dazzling them
  • Use the demister and windscreen wipers
  • Do not 'hang on' to the rear lights of the car in front as you will be too close to be able to brake safely
  • Switch off distracting noises and open the window slightly so that you can listen for other traffic, especially at crossroads and junctions
  • Beware of speeding up immediately if visibility improves slightly, as in patchy fog you could find yourself 'driving blind' again only moments later
  • If you break down, inform the police and get the vehicle off the road as soon as possible. Never park on the road in fog and never leave it without warning lights of some kind if it is on the wrong side of the road
  • Also remember that using fog lights when its not foggy is an offence and could potentially land you with a fine
Foggy Winter Driving
Wiltshire Police say foggy conditions can be one of the most dangerous types of weather

The Highway Code says: 

"You MUST NOT use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced (see Rule 226) as they dazzle other road users and can obscure your brake lights. You MUST switch them off when visibility improves."

IS YOUR CAR WINTER READY? 

There are few checks that we can do to make sure we're as prepared as possible to be on the roads.

These do apply to driving at any time of the year, but it's a reminder to take driving safety seriously.

We're told to check a number of things: 

  • Lights are clean and working
  • Battery is fully charged 
  • Windscreen, wiper blades and other windows are clean and the washer bottle filled with screen wash
  • Tyre condition, tread depth and pressure (of all the tyres, including the spare)
  • Brakes are working well
  • Fluids are kept topped up, especially windscreen wash (to the correct concentration to prevent it freezing), anti-freeze and oil
  • It is a good idea to stock up on de-icer, windscreen wash, oil and anti-freeze
Icy Windscreen Winter Driving
We're advised to make sure our windscreens are completely clear of frost before we set off

ANYTHING ELSE? 

Extreme weather like snow may not happen very often, but when it does, conditions can change very quickly.

We're encouraged to keep an 'emergency kit' in the car all the time, especially if we're taking a long trip.

Here's what that should contain, according to Wiltshire Police:

  • Tow rope
  • A shovel
  • Wellington boots
  • A hazard warning triangle
  • De-icing equipment
  • First aid kit (in good order)
  • A working torch
  • A car blanket
  • Warm clothes
  • Emergency Rations (inc hot drink in a flask - non-alcoholic, of course)
  • Mobile Phone (fully charged)
Snow on Fisherton Street in Salisbury on March 18th 2018
We're asked to be 'sensible' when it comes to driving in wintry conditions

There's more winter driving tips on the Wiltshire Police website.

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