As the Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings of ice and snow for much of the country, roads are expected to be gritted to prevent snow from settling. The IAM’s chief examiner, Peter Rodger is offering advice to motorists to better cope with driving on road surfaces that have been recently treated.
1. If weather conditions are severe in your area you should take notice of police advice and simply don’t travel. However, in exceptional circumstances if you must go out make sure you drive safely with extra caution on icy roads.
2. Salt will often make the windscreen, headlights, number plate and rear parts of your car very dirty. Cars without headlamp washers, for example, will lose an estimated 40% of luminosity, and possibly all their focus in about 20 miles on a damp, gritted motorway. When travelling long distances it is advised that you stop regularly at service stations to clean your windscreen and headlights with a clean cloth. Or keep a filled gallon of water in the car boot to give your lights, windows and mirrors a quick wash over – a handy investment to top up your windscreen washer reservoir when needed too.
3. When driving on a busy road avoid overtaking a gritting lorry as the road ahead may not be treated yet. If you have any doubt, don’t risk it. Never overtake a snow plough in heavy snow conditions.
4. While roads may be gritted to give you better traction some areas may not be completely treated, leaving ice patches exposed. You should therefore drive at a steady pace – ensuring the safety of you and your passengers.
5. It’s important that you keep your car clean throughout the winter as the salt in grit can cause external damage such as corrosion to any exposed suspension parts. Ensure that you thoroughly wash the underneath of your car when you can to stop salt from settling.
6. Don’t forget to wash/rinse alloy wheels too; the smallest scratch can quickly become a large rust patch.
Rodger said: “Preparation is the key to avoiding a dangerous situation whilst driving in snowy or icy conditions. Don’t rely on the performance of your car systems to get you out of trouble – allow time, make sure you have good visibility all round and carry the right equipment.”