Cambs Fire Service: Winter driving tips

WINTER driving can put stress on both cars and drivers. Heavy rain, snow, winds and ice can make a normal journey extremely difficult and dangerous. To ensure you stay safe on the roads, make sure you only make journeys that are necessary if driving cond

WINTER driving can put stress on both cars and drivers. Heavy rain, snow, winds and ice can make a normal journey extremely difficult and dangerous.

To ensure you stay safe on the roads, make sure you only make journeys that are necessary if driving conditions are poor. Also, ensure that you and your car are equipped to deal with the elements.

The British weather is unpredictable at the best of times. But at this time of year heavy snow, gales and ice can catch large numbers of people unaware.

This coupled with the rural roads and busy motorways in Cambridgeshire can make driving especially dangerous. The best advice is to stay off the roads during severe weather. However, if you must make a journey, make sure you do all you can to stay safe on the roads.


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Advice for winter driving:

Plan your journey

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• Check the local and national weather forecasts.

• Listen to local and national radio for travel information.

• Tell someone at your destination what time you expect to arrive.

• Make sure you are equipped with warm clothes, food and boots and a torch. In snowy conditions, take a spade.

• Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out and carry a screen scraper and de-icer.

If you get into trouble

• Do not use a mobile phone while driving. Stop somewhere safe or ask a passenger to make the call.

• On a motorway, it is best to use a roadside emergency telephone, because the breakdown/emergency services will be able to locate you easily. If you have a mobile phone, make sure you give them the number of the closest marker post to you on the hard shoulder.

• Abandoned vehicles can hold up rescue vehicles and snow ploughs. To ensure that the road is cleared as quickly as possible, stay with your vehicle until help arrives.

• If you have to leave your vehicle to get help, make sure other drivers can see you.

Vehicle condition

• In winter it is even more important to make sure your vehicle is well maintained and serviced.

• Keep the lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice and snow.

• Keep your battery fully charged.

• Add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer bottles.

• Make sure wipers and lights are in good working order.

• Check that tyres have plenty of tread depth and are maintained at the correct pressure.

Adjust your driving to the conditions

• Hail, heavy snow and rain reduce visibility.

• Use dipped headlights and reduce your speed.

When roads are icy or slushy

• It can take ten times longer to stop in icy conditions that on a dry road. Drive slowly, allowing extra room to slow down and stop.

• Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin.

• Manoeuvre gently, avoiding harsh braking and acceleration.

• To brake on ice or snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, allow your speed to fall and use the brake pedal gently.

• If you start to skid, ease off the accelerator, but do not brake suddenly.

Watch out for fog

• Watch out for fog -it drifts rapidly and is often patchy.

• In foggy conditions, drive very slowly using dipped headlights.

• Use fog-lights if visibility is seriously reduced, but remember to switch them off when the visibility improves.

• Don't drive too close to the vehicle in front. This gives you a false sense of security.

• Don't speed up suddenly, even if it seems to be clearing. You can suddenly find yourself back in thick fog.

Winter sun

• Dazzle from winter sun can be dangerous. Keep a pair of sunglasses handy.

Rain

• In wet weather, stopping distances will be at least double those required for stopping on dry roads. This is because a car's tyres have less grip on the road.

• You should keep well back from the vehicle in front. This will increase your ability to see and plan ahead.

• If steering becomes unresponsive, it probably means the water is preventing the tyres from gripping the road. Ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.

• The rain and spray from vehicles may make it difficult to see and be seen.

To find out more about Christmas fire safety or smoke alarms, contact 01480 444666 or visit www.cambsfire.gov.uk

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