Devon drivers urged to take extra care on icy roads

Driving was treacherous in Chard, Somerset, today where one car skidded off the road and into a wal

Driving was treacherous in Chard, Somerset, today where one car skidded off the road and into a wall during rush hour. Picture Ali Carson - Credit: Archant

Fire chiefs issue advice to motorists with more snow forecast

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is urging drivers to take extra care this week, especially with ice and snow forecast throughout the region.

Stopping distances can increase ten-fold in winter conditions and driving in bad weather can be lethal, that’s why it’s so crucial to be prepared, they say.

There are a number of top hints and tips you can follow to make you journey safer in winter and these are:

• If possible avoid driving in snow and other treacherous conditions.

You may also want to watch:

• Never leave when it’s snowing heavily or if it is forecast to snow, and avoid in other bad conditions like heavy rain, ice or fog.

• Consider public transport.

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• If you drive to work, try to make arrangements to work from home - particularly if you live in a rural area.

And ‘be prepared’, they stress. Breaking down is never a pleasant experience – especially if you have to wait for recovery in the cold. You’ll also want your vehicle to be in the best condition to handle difficult driving conditions in severe weather.

• Ensure your vehicle is well-maintained through an up-to-date MOT, regular service, and regular walk-round checks by you.

• Check your tyres to ensure they’re in good condition and have a tread depth of at least 3mm to be safe in the wet.

• Make sure there is anti-freeze in your radiator and windscreen washer bottle.

• Keep an ice-scraper and de-icer in your vehicle at all times in winter.

• Pack a winter driving kit in case of emergency. This might include: a torch; cloths; a blanket and warm clothes; food and drink; first-aid kit; spade; warning triangle; and high-visibility vest.

• Always take a well-charged phone in case of emergencies, but don’t be tempted to use it when driving.

In severe and wintry weather it’s even more important to plan your journey. Check the weather forecast in advance and plan your journey. In bad weather, major roads are more likely to be cleared and gritted, still allow plenty of time for potential hold-ups. The Met Office provides up to date forecasts, and issues warnings when severe weather is likely.

Clear ice, snow and condensation completely from your windscreen and all windows before setting off. Clear snow off the roof of your vehicle too, as it might fall and obscure your vision during your journey.

Drive with care:

• If you do get caught in bad weather, follow these steps to minimise the dangers.

• Slow right down and only travel at speeds at which you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear

• Maintain a safe space between you and the vehicle in front, if you haven’t, increase it to as much as 10 times as you normally would then do so straight away

• Be extra vigilant for people and hazards

• Stay in control and avoid harsh breaking and accelerating, or sharp steering

• Take corners very slowly and steer gently and steadily to avoid skidding. Never brake if the vehicle skids, instead, ease off the accelerator and steer slightly into the direction of the skid until you gain control

• Use lights accordingly – fog lights in foggy conditions, dipped headlights when visibility is reduced etc.

Keep listening to the radio for traffic and weather updates. On motorways, look out for overhead message signs where the Highways Agency will flash up important travel messages, including warning you of delays and advising of alternative routes.

Additional information and advice on driving in adverse weather conditions is available by visiting the website.

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