Driving in winter & adverse weather conditions
A helpful driving guide from the team at Ringroad Rescue Darlington to assist our customers.
With the current weather conditions already dominating the national & regional news & with the autumn/winter season only just started, we have already been very busy at Ringroad Rescue recovering cars from the recent flooding in the area, with this in mind we thought it would benefit our current & future customers if we put together some driving tips for the situations you may find yourself in.
As we all know winter driving conditions are very different than in other times of the year. Adverse weather and longer periods of darkness especially in the peak periods on our roads during the daily commute makes winter driving more hazardous. Sometimes conditions can be extreme, with prolonged periods of heavy snow and floods.
Firstly we have put a check list together of items we at Ringroad Rescue would suggest you keep in your vehicle boot ready for use if & when required.
- De-icing salt 3.5kg
- Emergency snow shovel
- High Energy bars (Maybe kept in glove box)
- High visibility vest
- Personal keep warm kit, including gloves, hat, warm waterproof winter jacket & a scarf
- Replacement bulb & fuse kit
- Snow and ice grips
- Tow rope
- Travel blanket
Ensure your fuel tank is kept full just in case you get detoured of your normal route & that your mobile phone battery is always fully charged.
If you think the above is a bit excessive imagine how you would cope if you got trapped in your vehicle over night in a flood or a snow storm, How would you keep warm? What would you eat? How would you let people know where you are.
Heavy rain reduces your ability to see & greatly increases the distance required to slow down & stop your vehicle especially if you have a load in your boot or the rear of your van. Remember that you will need around double the normal braking distance. Use windscreen wipers, washers & dipped headlights; drive smoothly & plan your moves in plenty of time to help reduce the risk of your vehicle aquaplaning.
Aquaplaning is caused by driving too fast into surface water this happens when the tyre tread cannot channel away enough water, the tyre’s loose contact with the road & your car will float across the surface of the water. Aquaplaning can be avoided by reducing speed in wet conditions. Having the correct tyre pressure & tyre tread depth will maximise your tyre’s ability to maintain their road grip. If this happens, ease off the accelerator & brakes until your speed drops sufficiently for the car tyre’s to make contact with the road again.
If you find yourself driving into a flood area & water is covering the entire road, then please follow these flood driving tips that we at Ringroad Rescue have put together for you:-
- Avoid the deepest water – which is usually nearest the kerbside, where possible drive in the middle of the road
- Be aware of the bow wave from approaching vehicles – wait at the beginning of any flood where another vehicle is already approaching through the flood towards you
- Don’t attempt to cross if the water seems too deep as water getting into your vehicle electrics could cause it to stall & get you stuck in the middle of the flood
- If you are not sure of the water’s depth, look for an alternative route
- If you decide to risk it, drive slowly in first gear keeping the engine speed high to assist in stopping your vehicle from stalling
Remember to test your brakes when you are through the flood.
Driving in snow or ice
When you find yourself driving in snowy, icy & slippy conditions please follow these helpful notes provided by Ringroad Rescue:-
- Reduce your speed. The chances of skidding are much greater and your stopping distance will increase massively
- Only travel at a speed at which you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear in front of you, increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front
- Avoid harsh braking and acceleration, or sharp steering
- Always reduce your speed smoothly and in plenty of time on slippery surfaces
- Slow down in plenty of time before bends and corners, braking on an icy or snow covered bend is extremely dangerous
- To brake on ice and snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, allow your speed to fall and use your brakes gently
- Keep your vehicle well-ventilated. The car heater turned up full can quickly make you drowsy
- In snow, stop frequently to clean the windows, wheel arches & lights
If you get stuck in snow:
- If you get stuck in snow, move your vehicle slowly backwards and forwards out of the rut using the highest gear you can
- If this doesn’t work, you may have to ask a friendly passerby for a push or get your shovel out of your emergency kit in your boot
If you get caught in a snow drift:
- Don’t leave your vehicle
- Call us or the emergency services and let help come to you
- Don’t run the engine to keep warm
Fog is one of the most dangerous weather conditions we can find ourselves driving in. When fog occurs any small accident involving one vehicle can quickly escalate with many other vehicles becoming caught up, especially if they are driving too close to one another, Once again we have put together a selection of fog driving tips:-
- Allow plenty of extra time for your journey
- Check your car before you set off. Make sure everything is in good working order, especially the lights & wiper blades also ensuring the washer bottle is full & contains an appropriate concentration of specific windscreen cleaning fluid
- Listen out for announcements & advice to drivers on the local radio station
- Reduce your speed and keep it down
- Switch on headlights and fog lamps to assist other road users to see your vehicle
- If you can see the vehicles in your rear view mirror, the drivers behind can see you – switch off your rear fog lamps to avoid dazzling them
- Use the demister and windscreen wipers, remember switching on your air conditioning can assist in clearing your vehicle glass quickly
- Do not speed up to follow the rear lights of the car in front as you will be too close to be able to brake safely if you need to stop
- In severely thick fog switch off distracting noises and open the window slightly so that you can listen for other traffic, especially at crossroads and junctions
- Beware of speeding up when visibility improves as in patchy fog you could find yourself ‘driving blind’ again only moments later
- If you break down, inform the police and get the vehicle off the road as soon as possible. Never park on the road in fog and never leave it without warning lights of some kind if it is on the wrong side of the road
Again in autumn/winter and ironically having already discussed all these poor winter weather conditions, low winter suns can also cause difficulties due to the angle of the sun in the sky it will frequently be too low for your visor to help. If blinded by glare:
- Reduce your speed
- Reduce the effect of glare by keeping both the inside and outside of your windscreen clean and grease free
- If you wear sunglasses them off whenever the sun goes in and the sky is no longer too bright to look at. Sunglasses should not be worn in duller weather or at night as they seriously reduce the ability to see
If the Worst Happens
If you get stranded, don’t panic.
Stay with your vehicle and call the Emergency services on your mobile phone, Or obviously call the team at Ringroad Rescue Darlington & we will be out like knights in shining Armour to rescue you & get you back on your way or recovered home safely.