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Driving in Snow and on Ice

January 10, 2010

With the cold weather continuing and the likelihood of more snow before the onset of Spring it’s important that all drivers take extreme care on the road. Remember; drivers cause skids!

The basics, of course, still apply:

  • Listen to or watch the weather forecast, only travel if it’s essential. Ensure you have some basic equipment in the car; warm clothing, shovel, stout walking boots, fluorescent/reflective jacket, a torch, a flask with a hot drink and maybe best of all a bar of chocolate. Make sure the mobile phone is fully charged and take the car charger.
  • Ensure the car is thoroughly defrosted before starting your journey. If you do leave the engine running on your driveway remember to lock the car with the spare key. It can still be stolen though by simply smashing the window!
  • Drive according to the conditions and give yourself plenty of time. It’s far better to be late in this world than early in the next! If you’ve had to scrape ice and snow off the car then the roads are going to be slippery, the clues are always there.
  • With a diesel let the torque of the engine do the work for you. You need very little acceleration to get going, just gently and slowly ease up the clutch and feed the power in. Everything you do on ice and snow needs more time so drive extremely gently and smoothly, if possible try to avoid harsh braking, firm acceleration, coarse steering and too much speed, all are common causes of skidding.
  • A petrol engined car may need a bit of accelerator so consider moving off in second gear, feeding the clutch in and out gently.
  • Look well into the distance, keep checking the mirrors and scan all around. This will help you to anticipate early and avoid the harsh use of the controls that would result in skid. Remember; early vision – early decision!
  • Drive at your own pace, don’t try to keep up the car in front and don’t be pressured by the vehicle behind. Do your own thing and stay safe.
  • If you do get well and truly stuck, it’s best to stay with the car. It affords protection from the elements. If it’s snowing hard, get out occasionally and keep the front of the car around the grill area clear of snow. Similarly with the area around the exhaust.
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