The winter months may provide us with some of the most picturesque scenes, as snow blankets the nation. But we should not be lulled into a false sense of security in regard to potential danger the weather can cause. Research conducted by Brake, the Road Safe Charity, discovered that 71 per cent of drivers have a lack of understanding about braking distances in poor weather conditions. Brake concluded that approximately 75 per cent of the respondents are taking life-threatening risks when driving on icy roads.
Unfortunately, for both road users and highway authorities, it isn’t just reckless driving or negligence that can ultimately lead to fatal collisions. Failing to understand the measures you need to take when driving in ice or snow can be your downfall.
The MET office often suggests that in extended periods of ‘severe’ winter weather, people should only drive if the journey is essential. That said, being prepared for that eventuality is crucial. Here, with Lookers Volvo, who sell the Volvo V60, we offer up some top tips for driving in the winter.
Virtually every car that was manufactured post 2010 features a built-in USB port that provides the facility to charge a mobile phone. For those that don’t, a good quality car-charger can be picked up for less than £10. Although we would suggest charging your phone t before every journey, ensuring you have access to a charging port guarantees you a communication facility, if you are to become stuck.
Most mobile phones come pre-loaded with satellite navigation, and the vast majority provide traffic and weather updates. But as a precaution, carrying a standard sat-nav in the car has you covered if you end up getting stranded in an internet blackspot without any 3G. Or, you can go back to basics, storing an OS 1000:1 map in the glovebox, but remember to top up on your basic skills prior to embarking on your journey.
Obviously, this is in the most severe of circumstances, predicting that you could be left marooned for a considerable amount of time. But as British weather becomes more extreme, one would be foolish not to air on the side of caution. If you, or any of your passengers require regular access to medication, storing back-up supplies in a safe storage location within the cabin can prove crucial in regard to guaranteeing a good bill of health.
For every journey, you should be stocked up with snacks. Whether it be a healthy treat or a guilty munch, edible supplies to keep you going are a must. However, most of us, or the kids, will be unable to resist against temptation. Therefore, we suggest keeping these snacks, like dried foods that are unperishable, in a hidden place. We can almost guarantee that most of the general public are harbouring something in their car which is no more than clutter. Empty bottles of water, an old Queen CD, or a pair of flip flops, no doubt one of these miscellaneous items have found themselves buried in your car for an extended period of time. Making room to store a warm clothes selection should be no issue whatsoever. Keep a coat or wooly hat on hand, as these will be much more useful than a pile of empty water bottles.
Eyes on the road
Driving in snow can be tricky. But it can be made easier with a number of considerations prior to take off. Understanding stopping distances is the most significant aspect. It should come as no surprise that you should leave more space between you and the car in front than you usually would. But, similarly, the AA (Automotive Association) suggest that you should drive in a fashion that means you aren’t depending on the brakes should you need to stop. Remember, the overall stopping distance includes more than just the braking distance. You must factor in the amount of time it takes to think as well. In normal weather conditions it takes 15m to think and 38m to brake, whereas in snow and ice, it takes the same 15m to think, but 380m to brake. As with every other occasion when driving, your visibility is essential. Ensure your windscreen has been cleared of any built-up snow prior to moving off. Wipe any snow off the roof as well, as this can negotiate its way down, impeding your view. Once the snow has been disposed of, you may find a layer of ice underneath. But, don’t make the schoolboy error of dashing a kettle full of boiling water everywhere — this will crack the glass! Use deicer to displace any ice, as unfortunately, using cold water in freezing temperatures will freeze again very quickly!
If you happen to get stuck in the snow, do not keep trying to move. If you keep spinning your wheels, you will only get dug in deeper. Try and dig out the blocked snow from under the wheels, use grit or sand to melt it, and slowly move backwards and forwards. Put your car into second gear, keep the revs low, and take off gently.
Use these handy tips, and, if the weather plummets, you won’t be left reeling your decision not to get prepared!