tips for driving in storms & gales

jonathan crouch on the impact of bad weather on the roads and those who have to use them...

High winds, freezing and heavy rain conditions can be dangerous and challenging for drivers. These safety tips should help:

1. Prep for your journey It's worth packing a few essential items in your car boot to make sure you're ready in case you get stuck, if you were to breakdown then it's best to be prepared as possible. - Torch, warm clothes, blankets, and high visibility jacket - with it still getting dark early on an evening a hi vis jacket or vest and a touch will mean you won't be missed by other drivers. Also pack warm clothes and a blanket to keep you warm and comfortable. - Fuel - make sure you have plenty of fuel before making a trip, your fuel consumption will increase when you're using your lights, wipers and ventilation. - In car phone charger - if your car has a USB charger then keep your mobile charger lead in the car so you can charge your phone as you go, in case of an emergency. - Jump leads - car batteries are one of the most common reasons drivers may find themselves stranded in the winter months. Jump leads are useful to have in the foot of your car in case you need them to kickstart your battery.

2. Check the forecast before you travel

Checking the weather forecast before you set off on your travels will help to ensure you are fully prepared for the conditions that may impact your journey. Severe weather can present different challenges. With today's technology and the right App or website, most weather forecasts or warnings are communicated ahead of time allowing you to be prepared.

3. Keep your distance

When you're driving in stormy conditions, it's important to substantially increase the stopping distance between you and the vehicle ahead, and approach every junction intending to stop well before the stop or give way line. According to advice from the Highway Code, it can take up to 10 times as long to stop in icy conditions.

4. Higher the better

Driving your car in a higher gear will help you to keep control. If it's icy and you're struggling to get started, try pulling away in second gear. This should make it easier to get you going, as pulling away in first gear on ice will give you a poor grip.

5. Light up the road

Before setting off on every journey, check all your lights are working correctly. If you've changed your car recently, in the summer, you might not be aware of automatic settings, how to overrule them or about changing in and out of full beam. Be prepared before you set off.

6. Under pressure

Your grip will be seriously reduced in the winter, so ensuring your tyres are in good condition is essential. Whilst law requires you to have your tread depth at a minimum of 1.6mm, grip starts to reduce on anything under 3mm, so make sure you keep an eye on your tyres and replace them if needed.

You can also get your hands on some winter tyres which will give you a better grip and traction during winter. If your budget allows then this could offer optimum traction and grip in cold conditions.