How to drive safely in the snow

As we head toward winter, it is worth reminding ourselves about how the seasonal changes in weather conditions can affect how we drive, particularly when it’s snowing.

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Be prepared

You probably already have a few emergency supplies in the boot, but you should add some extra items in the winter so that you’re properly equipped should the worst happen and you break down, have an accident or get stuck in traffic. Pack a bag that includes a torch, food, water, some warm clothes and some tools; you might want to consider a shovel, ice scraper and some salt.

Prepare the car before you set out on a journey. Make sure you have a full tank of petrol and screen wash, check the tread and pressure of your tyres, and ensure the heating is working correctly. Clear the windscreen and windows fully and remove excess snow from the top of your vehicle so it doesn’t impair your view or distract you while driving. Check that your headlights and brake lights are working, and don’t assume they’ll come on at the right time if yours are automatic.

Choose your route in advance and stick to A roads, motorways and dual carriageways where possible as they are more likely to have been cleared. Only make the journey if it’s absolutely necessary. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged in case you need it in an emergency.

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Only a fool breaks the two-second rule

Results from a recent survey published by The Highways Agency suggest that 60 per cent of people admitted to tailgating. This practice is dangerous in normal driving conditions but can be lethal in snow and ice.

Lots of commercial vehicles now have a Truck Camera fitted by companies such as http://www.backwatch.co.uk to record the activity behind them.

The premise of the two-second rule is that you should note when the car in front of you passes a fixed point, such as road sign, and it should then take you at least two seconds to reach that same point if you are driving at a safe distance behind them. However, braking distances are considerably longer when you’re driving in snow and ice; estimates suggest that this should increase the distance tenfold, so allow 20 seconds between you and the car in front passing the same fixed point.

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