12:23pm Friday 11th January 2013
THIS week temperatures plummeted bringing icy conditions that highlight our lack of skill and practice in winter driving.
Hopefully you’ve had your car serviced, tyres scrutinised for maximum efficiency not just legal minimum tread depth, the coolant antifreeze checked, and the screenwash topped up with a high concentration of de-icer.
If there’s snow forecast and you really must go out, you need to dress appropriately with gloves and head protection and take a spade, blanket, pair of wellies, torch and a flask of hot drink.
Before you move off, your most important asset is good visibility – you need to see as far as possible because braking distances multiply on ice, both for you and everything moving around you including pedestrians or livestock that step out.
It is also illegal to drive without good all round visibility.
Scrape off all ice and snow (never use hot water!), make sure all the mirrors are clear and the demister or air-con has cleared the insides of the windows.
Driving on snow is dangerous, but at least you know it’s there. Driving on ice is even more dangerous because you often can’t see it and it lingers when everything looks good, such as in the shade of hedges and especially on bends.
Anti-lock brakes, traction control, electronic stability program – modern technology all helps but drive too briskly and once you lose grip the new car will helplessly slide as far as an old one until it regains traction – or hits something.
So allow plenty of time, be patient, don’t start messing with a mobile phone (but make sure you’ve got it and an in-car charger) – and concentrate on the road.
And if you do have a little bump, make sure you get your car checked by the experts – it’s so easy to damage an alloy wheel or the steering geometry.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group