Severe Weather Tips from Road Safety Wales
While conditions are very bad, and the emergency services and the Welsh Government are recommending that people don’t travel, avoid making your journey unless it is absolutely necessary. Of course, what is ‘essential’ to one person may not be to another, but try to be realistic about which journeys are essential and which ones could be postponed. If you decide you really must travel:
- Let someone know where you are going and what time you hope to arrive so that they can raise the alarm if you get into difficulties.
- Plan alternative routes in case your main choice(s) becomes impassable.
- Keep your fuel tank near to full to ensure that you do not run out.
- Make sure you have a fully charged mobile phone, so you can call for help or alert someone if you’re delayed – it could be a long walk to a phone if you don’t have a mobile phone.
- If you don’t have an emergency kit in your vehicle, at least take extra warm clothes, boots and a torch.
- Consider keeping a couple of long-life energy bars in the glove box.
- Clear your windows and mirrors completely of snow and ice before you set off (make sure the heater is blowing warm air before setting off – it will keep your windscreen clear.)
If you find yourself driving in snow or on icy or snow-covered roads, adapt your driving to these conditions:
- 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. Speed limits are the maximum in ideal conditions; in difficult conditions, they can often be too fast.
- 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. The centrifugal force will continue to pull you outwards and the wheels will not grip very well. This could cause your vehicle to spin.
- To slow down on ice and snow, lift the gas early to allow the speed to drop sufficiently to select a lower gear. If you need to use the brakes, use very gentle pressure depressing the clutch early to avoid stalling the engine.
- Increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front. You may need up to TEN TIMES the normal distance for braking.
- 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 and number plates.
- Visibility will probably be reduced, so use dipped headlights.
During wintry weather, road surfaces are often wet and/or covered in frost and ice or snow. But this does not occur uniformly. A road will often have isolated patches of frost or ice after most of the road has thawed – this commonly occurs under bridges.
If you get stuck in snow revving your engine to try to power out of the rut will just make the rut worse. Instead, 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 passer-by for a push or get your shovel out.
If you get caught in a snowdrift don't leave your vehicle. Call your breakdown service or the emergency services and let help come to you. Don't run the engine to keep warm.