Much of the country will now be back to work and school, so roads will be busier. The IAM’s chief examiner, Peter Rodger recommends drivers prepare their cars before they travel so that they are not caught out by sudden changes in weather conditions.
- A torch is an absolute essential for your car boot. With street lighting in many places being turned off during the night it’s impossible to seek out help if your car breaks down in the dark or see what has gone wrong. If, for example, you have a punctured tyre and can repair this yourself a torch will obviously make the task much easier.
- Ensure you have a fully charged mobile phone with you that has the number of your breakdown service provider stored.
- If your car breaks down on the motorway you should wait for help on the hard shoulder. Make sure you leave your car and stand to the left side of it behind the barrier – even in the cold weather. Many accidents on the motorway involve traffic colliding with vehicles on the hard shoulder.
- When you experience a break down in the rain, ice, sleet or snow, your body temperature will fall rapidly. A useful precaution is to take some warm clothes and a blanket with you to keep you warm.
- A small bag of sand or an old bit of carpet will give you better traction if your wheels are left spinning in snow and ice. Carry either of these in your car boot throughout the winter.
- Don’t rely solely on a satnav to guide you with your journey. There will be times when your satnav loses its signal. Ensure you have a road atlas to hand in case you get lost, and that you understand how to read it.
- Keep a mini first aid kit in your car boot. You never know when you might need this so it’s best kept all year round.
- With often only eight hours of daylight during the depths of winter, ensuring you are visible if your car breaks down is critical. Carry a red warning triangle and high visibility vest.
- Keep a snow shovel handy as you never know when your car will get stuck during freezing conditions. However, if weather conditions worsen where you are you should avoid travelling altogether.
- Don’t forget road salt stains lights and obscures glass significantly, so keep your windows and lights clean with water.
Rodger said: “The average motorist is very poorly prepared for bad weather and the winter. We have named items here that every motorist should have in their vehicles – I can be sure less than a quarter of them will have them all.
“Drivers need to realise that they cannot assume someone will be on hand to rescue them if they run into difficulty.
“Good preparation will save you time and money. Don’t gamble lives for the sake of a few pounds.”