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Safe driving in snow and icy conditions

With snow and ice forecast over the next few days South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust is issuing advice to drivers on driving in snow and icy conditions.

Avoid driving in these conditions unless your journey is absolutely necessary.

Ensure you have sufficient fuel for your journey and that you have a mobile phone, ice-scraper, de-icer, blanket, shovel, jump leads, warning triangle, hi-viz jacket or vest, hot flask and food in the event of getting trapped.

Stopping distances can be up to ten times longer in ice and snow.

Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving in heavy snow. Use all the car's controls - accelerator, brakes, clutch and steering - as gently and progressively as possible. Modern diesel vehicles will pull away on 'tick-over' with accurate and concise use of the clutch, without any use of the accelerator. This will help to get you moving and will allow maximum grip when doing so. Dependant on the situation and conditions ahead of you, you can select second gear when pulling away, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin. Once moving try to maintain a constant speed, choosing the most suitable gear in advance to avoid having to change down while climbing or descending hills and gradients.

Ensure your boots or shoes are cleaned or snow and ice underneath to ensure your safety getting in and out of the vehicle and also to ensure they do not slip on the pedals whilst driving.

If you do get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip. Once on the move again, try not to stop until you reach firmer ground.

Clear snow from the roof as well as from windows. Snow piled up on the roof can fall onto the windscreen obscuring your view and can also be a hazard to other road users. You could be fined up to £2,500 and receive three penalty points if the police consider your car a danger to other road users, or are unable to maintain a clear and unobstructed view of your surroundings.

Keep to main roads as they are more likely to be gritted and will be patrolled by police and Highways Authorities.

If you breakdown or get stuck stay with your vehicle unless you know exactly where you are and are capable of getting to a known place of safety.

Never let other speeding drivers lull you into a false sense of security.

Only drive as fast as conditions, your vehicle and your abilities allow.

If you don't have to go, stay at home.

Before you set off it's worth taking a few minutes to make sure that there aren't any problems on your intended route.

  • Check the weather at metoffice.gov.uk
  • Call the Highways Agency information line on 0300 123 5000
  • Tune into DAB Traffic Radio
  • Visit www.highways.gov.uk/traffic.aspx

Published 11 January 2013

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