Driving in adverse weather can be much more dangerous than normal, so here are a few tips for when you really have to get somewhere.
BEFORE SETTING OFF
• Ensure your car is well maintained so it doesn't break down on you.
• Consider keeping an emergency kit in the boot just in case.
• Make sure all windows are clean and free of mist, ice and snow, both inside and out.
WATCH OUT FOR CHANGING CONDITIONS
When weather conditions are poor, keep your speed down and make sure you have a safe gap to the car in front - many accidents are caused by not braking in time when the roads are wet or slippery.
A change of road conditions can surprise you, so look out for:
• When the road goes up or down hill
• When entering open ground with more exposure
• When the road goes under bridges or trees
• Roads not clear of snow and ice where traffic is light
• Sharp bends where it is easier to lose control
DRIVING THROUGH ICE AND SNOW
Clear any snow off the roof of the vehicle before driving away, so it doesn't blow onto cars behind.
Pull away very gently to reduce wheel spin. If you struggle to move away, don't accelerate harder as you will dig yourself into a hole. Instead try steering left and right, starting in 2nd gear or putting sand or mats under the driven wheels of the car.
Drive at a much slower speed than usual, as it will take much longer to steer or stop the car.
Watch out for ice patches - look for clues such as ice at the side of the road or your steering feeling extra light.
Plan well ahead so you don't have to brake suddenly, as your wheels might lock which could make the car skid out of control.
DRIVING IN RAIN AND FLOODS
When the road is wet it can take twice as long to stop, so leave a much larger gap between you and the car in front.
If your car starts to lose grip or 'aquaplane' on surface water lift off the accelerator to slow down. Do not brake or steer suddenly as you might lose control of the car if grip returns quickly.
If you have to drive through floods, make sure the water is less than 15cm deep - any deeper and you might damage your engine by sucking water into it. Drive slowly in 1st gear and keep the engine revs above 2000rpm to stop the engine stalling.
Test your brakes after driving through water to make sure they work properly.
DRIVING IN FOG
Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you coming.
Use fog lights when visibility is less than 100 metres. Remember to turn them off again once visibility improves.
Try not to blindly follow the car in front's tail lights - without a safe following distance, if they crash you might crash into them.
Fog is often patchy, so be careful with your speed once visibility improves - there might be more fog just around the corner.
DRIVING IN WINDY WEATHER
Take extra care to look out for debris (tree branches etc) lying on the road.
Plan ahead and check if any high bridges on your route are closed.
Watch out for strong crosswinds, especially on open stretches of road or when passing high-sided vehicles, bridges or large buildings.
Give extra space around bicycles and motorbikes as they might be blown off course.