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The Met Office has issued weather warnings for heavy rain and a drop in temperature over the coming weeks, therefore, it is crucial to consider the potential risk of wet and icy conditions on the roads. With this in mind, experts at Bill Plant Driving School have shared five tips all motorists should be aware of for staying safe on the roads.
Think about your stopping distance
When a road surface becomes slippy, it makes a vehicle unable to break as quickly as it would be able to on a dry surface. For this reason, drivers should leave a gap between them and the car in front up to 10 times the normal recommended braking distance.
How to correct a skid on ice
If a vehicle skids on ice, the person behind the wheel can often panic, which is why it’s important to understand what to do in this situation.
Drivers should remove their feet from the accelerator as the more power they apply, the more likely their vehicle will continue to skid. Steer the wheel in the direction of the skidding vehicle to bring the vehicle out of the skid and into a straight line.
Drive in higher gear in snow and ice
When driving in snow, drivers should drive in as high a gear as possible, even if they’re driving at a slower speed.
Tyres grip less efficiently in wet and cold conditions, so by driving in a higher gear, motorists will keep their vehicle’s revs low and prevent the wheels from spinning out.
Drive for the conditions, not the speed limit
Speed limits are the maximum in ideal driving conditions, meaning it’s not always safe to drive at this speed in bad weather. On icy and wet surfaces, tyre grip is greatly reduced making braking distances much longer.
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Use fog lights when necessary
Fog lights are installed to make a vehicle more visible in poor visibility conditions such as fog, heavy rain or snow. If visibility is less than 100m, drivers should put the fog lights on. They should also remember to switch the fog lights off when visibility improves as this could result in a £50 fine.
Tom Hixon, Head of Instructor Support, from Bill Plant Driving School, said: “Driving in the winter months can require a few changes to your technique to ensure you are driving as safely and efficiently as possible.
“Ice can be a common risk during these colder months, with black ice taking drivers by surprise.
“Knowing how to control and correct a skid is crucial for driver safety – the best way to do this is to remove your foot from the accelerator and steer into the skid; for example, if the vehicle is sliding to the left, steer to the left, this will bring you out of the skid.
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“I’d also advise driving in a higher gear on snow and ice – a higher gear will help keep your revs low and prevent your wheels from spinning out.
“My main piece of safety advice is to drive for the conditions, not the speed limit – the limit is there as a maximum, however, if the conditions aren’t ideal, you need to adjust your speed to ensure optimum control and safety when driving.
“You will also need to give yourself a greater stopping distance, in adverse weather conditions you will need at least 10 seconds to come to a complete stop when driving.”
Experts at Leasecar.co.uk echoed Mr Hixon’s comments adding that stopping distances are worked out by adding the thinking distance and the braking distance, which can vary depending on the road conditions and the condition of the car.
At 60mph total stopping distance is around 75 metres but in the wet, this doubles to 150 metres – approximately the height of the Blackpool Tower.
Checking parts of the vehicle such as the condition of the brakes and tyres can help reduce stopping distances while managing the space to the car in front will make sure drivers have room to stop safely in the wet.
A spokesperson from LeaseCar.uk said: “It’s important for drivers to be aware that stopping distances will at least double in the wet.
“As we enter the wettest months in the UK it’s vital that motorists manage their speed and distance to the car in front to prevent any serious accidents.
“Motorists only need to visualise the height of the Blackpool Tower to better understand the distance they will need to safely stop their vehicle during the wettest months.
“Drivers should regularly check the condition of their vehicle paying particular attention to the brakes and depth of tyre tread as stopping distances will increase significantly in the wet if either are in poor condition.”
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