Drive safely during cold snap

The Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia is urging road users to take extra care when out on the roads during the cold snap and to follow its advice about driving through ice and snow. Temperatures are set to remain bitterly cold this week and with more snow showers forecast it is essential that drivers exercise caution while out on the roads.

Local conditions may vary according to area and drivers are advised to consider local road conditions and forecasts before starting their journeys. Even roads that drivers use regularly can become very challenging in this type of weather so drivers should consider the local landscape and the possible stretches of road where there is a greater risk of ice forming.

However, where ever you live in West Mercia the same advice applies when travelling through the ice and snow. It is recommended that all snow is cleared from the roof of the vehicle before driving off as it can slip down over the windscreen and obscure the driver’s view while on the move. It is also recommended that all windows and mirrors are free from ice and snow to maximise visibility while driving and also from the lights to make sure your car is seen by other road users.

It is advisable to include an ‘Emergency Kit’ in the car during the winter. The kit should include items such as ice-scraper, torch, warm clothes and a blanket, a pair of boots, first aid kit, battery jump leads, a shovel for snow, food and drink and sunglasses to help you see in low winter sun. Also make sure that your mobile phone is fully charged before heading off on a journey in case of roadside breakdown.

While on the move, it is not always obvious that the road ahead is icy so look for clues such as ice on the pavement or on car windscreens. If tyres are making virtually no noise on the road it could be a sign that you are driving on ice. Do not brake when on ice as this will just lock up the wheels and you will skid further. The best thing to do is gently ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.

Stopping times and distances are greatly increased during snowy and icy conditions so drivers should slow down and keep well back from the vehicle in front to give themselves plenty of time to stop if and when they need to.

Katy Jenkins at the Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia says: “Making sure your vehicle is clear from snow and ice and you have good, all round visibility is one easy step you can take to start your journey in the right way. It is also very important to clear snow from lights to make sure that other road users can see your headlights, brakelights and indicators when in use.”

“Also consider packing an emergency kit with provisions in case of breakdown or delay. Once on the road, snowy and icy conditions offer many challenges for motorists. Collisions at this time of year can be caused by drivers not braking in time when the roads are slippery. If it’s snowing, raining or icy, make sure you slow down and keep well back from the vehicle in front.”

Press release by The Safer Roads Partnership in West Mercia.

30th November, 2010