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Road Safety Advice - Winter Conditions

17th November 2012

Below are some important tips being offered by Police.

During the winter months, road conditions can be extremely difficult and dangerous. Motorists need to pay extra attention and be prepared to adapt to changing conditions. Even the most experienced motorists can find themselves getting into difficulties when the roads are icy. Our advice is to consider if your journey is absolutely necessary and if you must drive then ensure that you and your car are adequately prepared for the journey ahead.

Before you set off on your journey:

It is vitally important to make sure your vehicle is adequately maintained and that brakes, tyres, lights, batteries, windscreens and wiper blades are in good condition.

Tyres are the only point of contact with the road and if they are worn or incorrectly inflated then they have less grip and can significantly increase stopping distances in the event of an emergency.

Tyres should also be checked for bulges, cuts or tears which will weaken the tyre and potentially lead to a collision. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm but this is the legal minimum and it must be remembered that tyres perform more efficiently with a greater depth of tread. The recommended depth is 3mm.

Windows including the windscreen should be demisted and fully cleared of any frost, snow or ice.

Check that wiper blades are not worn and are capable of clearing the screen correctly.
Check brakes, lights, oil and washer fluid levels (add winter screen wash to your washer bottle to stop the water from freezing)

Carry water and de-icer in the car with you.
Carry a few essentials in the car at all times, a warm winter jacket preferably a High Visibility one could be a life saver, other items to consider are a torch, first aid box, a blanket, sturdy boots or Wellingtons and even some warm clothes.

If you must travel in wintry weather remember to:

Slow down and leave plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front.

Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels lock, ease off the brakes.

Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists and always clear all ice and snow off the car windows before setting out.

Drive slowly on snow in the highest gear possible.

Do not assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

Visibility is often reduced because of fog, rain, spray, hail or snow.

Remember to ensure that you use dipped headlights in periods of reduced visibility. Fog lights can only be used when visibility is seriously reduced to less than 100 metres but must be switched off if visibility improves.

If you get stuck in snow:

Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.

Use a light touch on the accelerator to ease your car out.

Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
Pour sand, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels - or even use your floor mats - to help get traction.
If you must leave your car, arrange to have it recovered as soon as possible. If you think it is in a place that may pose a danger to other road users, call the police to let them know.

Pedestrians, Joggers, Cyclists:

Cyclists should ensure that they have suitable lights on their bicycles and that they wear reflective and fluorescent clothing and a cycle helmet.

Pedestrians and Joggers should where possible wear High Visibility clothing or brightly coloured clothing, this will allow other road users to see you earlier.

Everyone using our roads should avoid any distraction devices and that includes using mobile phones and listening to excessively load music through ear phones.

Further advice for joggers can be found on the Jog Scotland website.

Children should also wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing as they will generally be walking to school during darkness or reduced visibility.

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