At this time of year we would normally be advising people to drive with care in the snowy and icy conditions, however, motorists up and down the country are contending with the torrential stormy weather that has plagued Britain over Christmas and now into the New Year.
Residents in coastal towns are being warned to stay away from sea fronts and rescue teams are working around the clock in an attempt to save those at risk. The issue isn’t confined to the coast though; with gale force winds rattling up and down the country and heavy rain causing major flooding in many regions, even if you aren’t directly affected by the storms, travelling by car will be more risky than usual with increased surface water and high winds to negotiate.
If you are concerned about driving and travelling in these conditions, here’s our advice to help you stay safe whilst getting around.
- If the wind is high, be aware that your braking distances will be longer than usual. Increase the distance you leave between cars and brake in plenty of time to avoid collisions and drive slower than usual as high speeds impair your control.
- Hold the steering wheel firmly. It’s unlikely the pull of the wind will be constant throughout your entire journey, it may only pull occasionally and surprise you so stay vigilant.
Give cyclists and motorcyclists extra room as they are more vulnerable than usual. Do the same for lorries and buses as they are easily pulled by the wind.
- Be prepared for debris on the road. After a windy night, there is more than likely to be plenty of branches on the roads, particularly country roads. Always be ready in case something is blocking your path around the next corner.
- If your car begins aquaplaning, don’t panic. Take your foot off the accelerator and don’t use your brakes. Hold the steering steady and in a couple of seconds the traction should return and you will be in control again.
- Don’t park your car in areas that are prone to flooding. It may seem obvious, but just because a spot by the river seems unaffected by flooding when you park up, the same may not be true when you go back to retrieve your car. Wooded areas are also risky.
- Ensure your survival pack is safely in your car at all times. You never know when you may be stranded so always carry around; water, food, a blanket, warm coat and wellies.
- Take extra care if you are towing, or using roof boxes on your vehicle. It doesn’t take much for the wind to pull you and it can be easy to forget you’re transporting more weight than usual.
- Consider taking out breakdown cover. It’s a good idea to have breakdown cover throughout the year, but particularly in the winter months. It can often be part of a car insurance deal or bank account offer, so take a look to see if your bank or insurance broker offers this.
- Above all, be sensible. If there are severe weather warnings in your area, only travel if your journey is essential. If you choose to travel, thoroughly plan your routes accordingly after listening to local weather reports and checking on the internet for blockages.
Hopefully these tips will prove useful to you whilst you’re out and about on the roads. Always think sensibly about the journey you are about to embark on and take a mobile phone with you at all times, even if you’re just popping to the shops.