Getting out and about in winter
Winter weather can make travel more difficult. To help, there are certain preparations you can make to your vehicle, as well as precautions you can take before travelling.
- Before travelling, check the weather conditions using websites such as www.metoffice.gov.uk or www.bbc.co.uk/weather and keep up to date with the latest warnings
- Check that you know where to find traffic and travel information. Live updates are provided by www.highways.gov.uk for motorways and trunk roads in England, or www.traveline.info for public transport. Local radio stations also often provide regular traffic updates
- If your area is at risk of flooding, remember that you should not drive or walk through flood water. Six inches of fast-flowing water can knock over an adult and two feet of water can move a car
- If heavy winds are forecast, consider taking alternative transport if you normally cycle. Winds can easily blow you off your bike and cause serious injuries.
Clearing snow and ice
The Snow Code issued by the government features tips on clearing snow and ice in a safe way:
- If you are clearing snow, think about where you will put it so that it doesn’t block paths or drainage channels
- Start early in the day - it’s easier to move fresh, loose snow
- Don’t use water - it might refreeze and turn to black ice
- Use salt if possible - it will melt the ice or snow and stop it from refreezing overnight
- You can use ash and sand if you don’t have enough salt - it will provide grip underfoot
- Pay extra attention when clearing steps and steep pathways - using more salt may help.
There are a range of preparations you can make to your vehicle to make travelling in winter safer. Check that your vehicle is ready for winter using the POWDERY checklist as a good reminder:
- Petrol (or diesel) - Have you got enough? Do you know where to fill up?
- Oil - Check levels once a month
- Water - Check radiator, screen wash and anti-freeze levels regularly
- Damage - Check wipers, lights etc. for signs of wear and tear or damage
- Electrics - Check lights, indicators and controls are working properly
- Rubber tyres - Are they well inflated, legal, with good tread and free from damage?
- Yourself – Are you fit to drive? Have you slept well? Are you taking any medication(s) that could make it
- Unsafe for you to drive?
Further advice on driving in adverse weather conditions is available in the Highway Code. Find more information here.
Having an emergency kit in your car can be really useful if you get stuck unexpectedly. This should include:
- Ice scraper and de-icer
- Warm clothes and blankets - for you and all passengers
- Torch and spare batteries – or a wind-up torch
- Food and a flask with a hot drink
- Any medication you need to take regularly
- First aid kit
- Jump leads
- A shovel
- Road atlas
- Sunglasses (the glare from winter sun can be dazzling).
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