If weather conditions are severe in your area, you should take notice of police advice and simply not travel. However, in the exceptional circumstances where this is unavoidable, make sure you drive safely and with extra caution on icy roads.
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 litre or two 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.
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.
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.
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 underside of your car when you can to stop salt from settling.
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.”
The IAM is the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, dedicated to improving standards and safety in driving and motorcycling. The commercial division of the IAM operates through its occupational driver training company IAM Drive & Survive. The IAM has more than 200 local volunteer groups and over 100,000 members in the UK and Ireland. It is best known for the advanced driving test and the advanced driving and motorcycling courses. Its policy and research division offers advice and expertise on road safety.