With Britain bracing for one of the coldest winters in decades – complete with floods, gales and torrential rain, according to the Met Office – driving conditions across the country are set to worsen in the coming months.
Northants-based courier and logistics firm The NX Group has compiled a list of expert tips for drivers, professional and otherwise, on how to navigate snow and storms alike.
1. Have your vehicle “health checked”
Lots of garages offer a winter check for cars and vans, which is certainly worth investing in before the snow and ice arrive. Typically, this involves ensuring that your lights, windscreen wipers, tyres and battery are all in good working order, along with top-ups of your oil, coolant and anti-freeze.
2. Be prepared with provisions
Make sure you’ve got a few essential provisions in your vehicle for long journeys, or shorter ones in unpredictable weather, including: blankets, food and water, warm footwear with good grip, spare clothing, a shovel, de-icer and ice scraper, a torch, first-aid kit and your phone charger.
3. Drive slower in poor conditions
Poor weather conditions will affect both visibility and braking distances, which double in rain and increase tenfold in ice and snow. Make sure your dipped headlights are on, as well as your fog lights if visibility is especially limited. Take care to drive extra sensibly and be especially aware of other drivers around you.
4. Top up your fuel – and your phone
Your journey may end up taking a lot longer than you anticipated, so try to keep your fuel tank topped up and don’t risk driving for long distances if you’re down to your last dregs! And, on the topic of keeping things topped up, make sure your mobile phone is charged: you may need to make an emergency call.
5. Reduce risks
Is your journey essential or can it wait? It’s worth putting off your trip until another day if weather conditions are hazardous. If you’re already out on the roads when the weather turns, be sure never to overtake unless it’s absolutely safe to do so – there could be uncleared snow or invisible black ice, and with braking distances reduced your haste could be fatal.
Russell Thompson, Operations Controller for NX Courier and an experienced courier driver himself, advises: “As professional drivers, we’re all too aware of the dangers posed by bad weather. For those who work in distribution, the risk could be increased by rushing to make it to a delivery point within a certain time. For others, hurrying home from work before it gets dark or trying to beat the Christmas rush to the shops before they shut can easily lead to accidents. Take your time and take care – reckless driving in winter is just not worth the risk.”