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Author Topic: Advice on driving in ice and snow  (Read 2006 times)

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Advice on driving in ice and snow
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2008, 07:48:17 PM »
North Yorkshire Police driving instructor Dave Goudie has trained hundreds of officers to drive safely in all weather conditions. Here he offers some advice for drivers.

If the roads are snowy or icy, then the first thing you need to consider is whether your journey really is necessary. And if it isn’t essential, then don’t go - simple as that.
If you are taking to the roads when ice and snow are likely, then begin by ensuring your car is up to the job. Start the engine to let it - and the windows - warm up while you CHECK:
* Your windscreen - make sure it is clear of snow or ice before you go anywhere. Scrapers and sprays are good, and remember to clear the wiper blades
* Your tyres - make sure both pressure and tread are OK. And remember, the more tread there is on a tyre, the more grip it has
* Screenwash bottle - you need some proper de-icer fluid in the bottle, and the bottle should be full
* You have a clean, dry cloth in the car - if your screenwashers freeze up you may have to pull over to a safe parking place to rub the windscreen clear
* Your lights - are they clean, and do they all work? And remember that however fashionable fog lights are, it is an offence to use them unless visibility is less than 100 metres; it is also dangerous as inappropriately-used front or rear fog lights can badly dazzle other drivers
* You know where you are going!  If you are setting off on an unfamiliar journey, work out your route in advance. And carry a map
* Your car’s fuel level. Your planned route may be blocked by snow or by an accident, or you may get lost as roads take on an unfamiliar appearance - either way, you may have to travel a lot further than you expected
An ice scraper and de-icer should be carried for day to day use, whilst other items might include: A torch, warm clothes or a blanket, boots, first aid kit, shovel, battery, jump lead, tow rope.  Food and a warm drink should be considered on longer journeys.
Once under way, remember the golden rule of safe driving: It doesn’t matter if you are late! Says Dave Goudie: “On treacherous roads it is literally a case of better late than never.”
He advises always driving with extreme care even if roads have been gritted - you never know what lies round the next corner. The same applies to the distance you drive behind another vehicle - drive as if you were on an untreated road, and leave a generous space.
Police drivers are trained to watch out for micro-climates, where road conditions can change over relatively short distances, especially where towering hills and deep valleys can keep the sun from melting the ice from roads that have long since cleared elsewhere.
Mr Goudie’s Top Tips for driving on slippery roads are:
* Smooth’s the word. Corner, slow and accelerate smoothly and gently
* Downhill braking calls for careful speed control well before reaching the actual hill. Slow before you get there, and select a low gear at an early stage in the descent
* Anti-lock brakes (ABS) will not help your tyres stay in contact with the road. If you brake hard on ice ABS will enable you to steer your car, but it doesn’t make you stop in a shorter distance.
* Keep your speed down, and try to drive in as high a gear as possible
* Treat every control - brakes, accelerator, steering, clutch and gears - very delicately
* Look well ahead - if you see a bend ahead, slow to the appropriate speed before you enter that bend. Failing to do so is the cause of many a skid
* Look for signs of frost or ice on the road or on the verge, and always be prepared to brake gently if an ice hazard may be ahead
Dave Goudie says safe driving in bad weather is all to do with smoothness and gentleness at the wheel. “Read the road well ahead, try to predict possible mistakes other drivers may make, but above all be calm and controlled in all you do.”