We don’t get snow regularly in the south of England but when it does snow it brings the south to a standstill. If you get stuck in snow one way of trying to get free is to turn your wheels from side to side to push the snow out of the way, do not try to keep moving if the wheels spin it will only dig you in deeper. Use a shovel to clear snow out of the way of the wheels and pour cat litter, sand or gravel in front of the wheels to help get traction, shift from forward to reverse and back again. Give a light touch on the accelerator until the vehicle gets going. While it can be dangerous to spend hours in a cold car miles from anywhere it can happen so while you are waiting for a recovery, there are ways to avoid the worst effects of the cold. First of all, make sure you have packed your emergency snow kit. This should include warm clothing, some food, water and a mobile phone and charger this way you are able to alert a recovery company and a member of family so they know where you are. If you are trapped in your car, you can stay warm by running the engine as long as the fumes cannot get into the car as they are toxic. Stay warm, stay safe!
It’s hard enough driving on the British roads in good weather conditions let alone when it’s snowing and icy. It’s important when driving in snow to get your speed right, not too fast so that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when you need it. Brake, steer and accelerate as smoothly as possible, start gently in second gear, avoiding high revs. Stay in a higher gear for better control and only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble. Stopping distances increase considerably in snow and ice, so you need to adjust the distance at which you follow other vehicles accordingly. Drive so that you do not rely on your brakes to be able to stop, on an icy surface they simply may not do that for you! If your vehicle has ABS, in very slippery conditions it will not give you the same control it would in others, do not rely on it. Plan your journey around busier roads as they are more likely to have been gritted, try to avoid using shortcuts on minor roads as they are less likely to be cleared or treated with salt, especially country lanes. When driving on motorways, stay in the clearest lane. Where possible, stay away from slush and ice and drive within the clear tyre tracks if you can. On a downhill slope, get your speed low before you start the descent, and do not let it build up, it is much easier to keep it low than to try to slow down once things get slippery. If you find yourself driving in falling snow, use dipped headlights or fog lights to make yourself visible to others, especially pedestrians, as conditions improve, make sure your fog lights are only on if necessary as they can dazzle other drivers.
Think! Don’t drink and drive! The Government’s Think! Drink drive Christmas campaign was launched this month! Its shock value is in revealing the huge impact that a drink drive conviction can have on your current job and future employability. Figures from the Department for Transport show that one million people in the UK will lose their job if they are caught drink driving this Christmas due to having to drive in relation to their employment. The campaign includes convicted drink drivers relating the impact their conviction has had on their job. According to the DfT, almost a third (27 per cent) of people rely on their car to get to work, and would have to give up their job if they were caught drink driving, while many alternative jobs would be closed to them because they require a criminal records check , including teaching, financial services and the armed forces. A third of convicted drink drivers surveyed say they have been limited on the jobs they can do since their offence by not being able to drive. So if you’re driving, it’s better to have none for the road. The consequences, There are strict penalties if you are convicted of drunk driving, including a minimum 12 month driving ban, a criminal record, a fine of up to £5,000, an endorsement on your license for 11 years. However, this list does not reflect the everyday consequences of being caught drink driving which can include Increase in car insurance costs, Job loss, trouble getting in to countries like the USA, the shame of having a criminal record, loss of independence. The Institute of Advanced Motorists calculate that a drink drive conviction could cost between £20,000 – £50,000 as a result of fines, solicitors fees, increase in car insurance and loss of job.
Driving in severe winter weather poses many challenges. Cars can get stuck in snowy conditions even on familiar roads, forcing the driver and passengers to spend the night on the roadside. If possible, considering buying winter tyres, which are designed to grip the road better in icy, wet and snowy conditions. If this is not an option, ensure your standard tyres are inflated correctly and that you have a minimum of 3 mm of tread on your tyres to cope with wet and slippery conditions. In winter, the battery will run down quicker than in warmer weather. Make sure you do a regular long journey to top it up or trickle-charge the battery. The following items will be useful should you find yourself in an emergency situation during the winter months. Cat litter or sand, snow shovel or spade, ice scraper, warm clothes and footwear, snacks and water, torch, mobile phone, blanket or sleeping bag, jump leads, high visibility jacket, first aid kit. Modern engines are more robust than older ones. All the same, depress the clutch when starting as this will reduce drag on the engine when starting, and preserve the battery. Keep the screen wash topped up and use a proper additive at the right concentration to prevent it freezing. Keep your fuel tank topped up – that way if you are caught out, you’ll have enough fuel to make it home or run the engine to keep warm. Clear all snow and ice from the windscreen and the roof of the car before driving off. Do not use water to de-ice windscreens. Hot water can crack the glass, and the water will only freeze again on the screen or on the ground where you are standing. A squirt of WD-40 will prevent your door locks freezing up. If they do, heat your key with a lighter to melt the ice. Your car may be warm on the inside but if you have to step outside, you could be in trouble if you have not got any warm clothing with you. Always pack the following: warm coat, hat, gloves, sturdy boots, a blanket to keep you warm if you get stuck. Take some food, chocolate, biscuits, water and a hot drink if you can. Always carry a fully charged mobile, and some old bits of carpet, or cat litter, to put under the tyres when stuck and a shovel to clear snow.