With winter fast approaching we’d all do well to listen to some timely advice regarding how to approach driving at this time of year.
By John Killick
There are two basic rules – as a friend had on a sign in his garage, “Don’t worry about the fool in the vehicle ahead or the one behind, worry about the idiot in the middle, you!”
Secondly, in snow, ice and fog, stay at home unless your journey is essential. Having said that, it is amazing how often it is essential. So, even if common sense says stay at home and you still have to go out, here are a few simple rules:
In daylight, use every available light you have. That means all of those ‘spots’ the manufacturers supply you with, especially the back ones – and dipped headlights. The idea is not to help you see any better – but so that other drivers can see you. The next time you are driving in daylight fog observe how much earlier you can spot the car ahead if it has rear fog-lights on. In addition, always allow extra braking distance. You will have no chance to overtake in fog so hang back a bit. If the driver ahead breaks suddenly all for that shadow that seems to appear from nowhere, at least you won’t run into the back of them.
Lastly, remember that it is illegal to use fog lights at night and only planks that don’t check their instrument panels fail to switch them off!
This year, at the roundabout at the bottom of the road we’ve recorded an average of about one accident every month; always just after rain. Rain on dry roads wets the surface reacting with oil and rubber from tyres laid down during the dry weather making it remarkably slippery. Every one of these accidents has been caused by people hitting the roundabout a bit fast and spinning. Treat corners on wet roads, especially after a long dry period, with extra caution, it is not just aquaplaning that you have to worry about.
Snow and ice
Slow down! Advised speed depends on the conditions and only you know what they are. However the basics are that, in snow, travelling at less than 20mph will definitely get you stuck, and more that 30mph and you will need to justify yourself to the police and your insurers.
If you get into a skid, always turn into it. Never do anything like break or accelerate rapidly. Leave a lot of extra space between you and the vehicle ahead. In addition, carry a shovel, some old sacks or bits of carpet, or short planks of wood (to place under wheels when friction is required), a flask of coffee or tea, and a rug or preferably sleeping bag. If you drive in deep snow it’s more a case of when you’ll get stuck. (The emergency supplies and warm clothes are for then.) Having said all that the best advice in snow and ice is “Stay at home!”