Is your car ‘winterised’? Do you know the icy road rules?

Voice of the Blue Light:

Monthly news from the North Dorset Police Team. This month – Sturminster Newton’s PCSO Mandy Robinson

Driving in the winter has its own challenges; wet weather, flooding, fog, snow and ice all lead to hazardous driving conditions. Stur’s PCSO Mandy Robinson shares the police tips to keep you safe.

Prepare your vehicle correctly

Always check the following:

• Lights are clean and working
• Battery is fully charged – batteries typically last three to five years, and even a healthy, fully charged battery only supplies about 65% of its power at 0oF. If you typically make lots of short journeys, aim for an hour’s drive every couple of weeks to fully recharge it.

• Windscreen, wiper blades and other windows are clean and the washer bottle filled with screen wash

• Tyre condition, tread depth and pressure (of all the tyres, including the spare) – minimum tread is 1.6mm check the inner, centre and outer areas of the tyre.

• Brakes are working well
• Fluids are kept topped up, especially windscreen wash (to the correct concentration to prevent it freezing), anti-freeze and oil

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Winter driving

You can keep yourself and others safe by:

  • Slowing down and driving to the conditions of the road. Is it wet, icy or muddy?
  • Keeping a greater distance between yourself and the vehicle in front, (increase the 2 second rule to 4 seconds or even more)
  • Setting aside extra time to complete your journey
  • Keep your mobile phone fully charged.
  • On colder days be particularly careful on tree lined roads – the trees prevent the sun’s warmth from reaching the road, which may still be icy when all around has thawed
  • Properly demist and clear frosty/snow covered windscreens – don’t start driving as soon as
    a small patch on the windscreen is ‘good- enough’! Demist and clear mirrors too.
  • Use headlights when foggy and in poor light. Do NOT use fog lights unless it is foggy.
  • Do not drive through road closures – they are there for a reason!

Special rules for icy roads

The Highway Code has the following advice when driving in icy conditions:
• Drive extremely carefully when the roads are icy. Avoid sudden actions as these could cause loss of control.
• Drive at a slow speed in as high a gear as possible; accelerate and brake very gently
• Drive particularly slowly on bends where loss of control is more likely. Brake progressively on the straight before you reach a bend. Having slowed down, steer smoothly round the bend, avoiding sudden actions
• Check your grip on the road surface when there is snow or ice by choosing a safe place to brake gently. If the steering feels unresponsive this may indicate ice and your vehicle losing its grip on the road. When travelling on ice, tyres make virtually no noise.

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