It’s that time of year again when we all act ‘surprised’ by a drop in temperature and a change in weather. Yes, winter is well and truly upon us which in Britain is becoming synonymous with chaos on the roads. However with increasingly erratic weather patterns, being prepared could quite literally mean the difference between life and death. Statistics from the BBC show that in the UK around 30,000 deaths a year are caused by excessive exposure to the cold! With that in mind, carrying a shovel in the boot of your car as well as other winter essentials is not as odd as it sounds.
Every vehicle, especially those making lengthy journeys, should have an ‘emergency kit’ in case the worst happens and you become stranded. This kit should include the following essentials: A shovel, rope, a torch, warm clothes, blankets, food, an ice scraper and a first aid kit. It’s also important to make sure that your mobile phone is fully charged and that the number of your car breakdown service is in your car, rather than still in the envelope on the mantelpiece.
In the spirit of taking measures to avoid any unwarranted situations, here are a few tips on how to prepare your vehicle for winter:
Tips for a car and van:
• Get your car serviced – the last thing any driver needs is a vehicle that breaks down in cold.
• Pump up your tyres – during winter, tyre pressure and tread are particularly important, so should be checked weekly. There should be a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm and it must be measured across the central 3/4 of the tyre and all the way round.
• Be diligent about the vehicles fuel and oil – keep it topped up.
• Visibility is key – check all the car lights are working properly. Consider winter wiper blades and use cold weather washer fluid. (As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months).
• Cold temperatures can cause batteries to have chemical reactions and not work properly, so before you make that journey check the battery is running efficiently by looking at the lights, listening to the engine pitch and checking the ignition – If these parts of the van are heard/seen to be struggling it could indicate the battery is in need of a replacement.
Tips for a lorry:
• Check the DEF system (Diesel exhaust fluid) – the freezing point of the system is -11C, so be aware of the temperature.
• Make sure the lorry’s tyres are in good condition.
• Clean, flush and put new antifreeze in the cooling system.
• Check and maintain the engine heaters.
• Ensure that the exterior and interior lights are working. Certify that the headlights are properly aimed.
• Have the brakes checked – the braking system is the vehicle’s most important safety item.
In addition, when battling the elements this winter bear in mind the external condition of your vehicle before driving off. The ‘North Yorkshire Police’ recently released an interesting statement regarding snow on vehicles: ‘Many road users have been concerned by rumours that they could be fined for driving with snow on their roofs. There is no specific legislation on driving with snow on the roof of a vehicle. However if it slips over the windscreen, or flies into the path of another car, it could leave the driver open to being penalised for driving without due care and attention or careless or inconsiderate driving’. So make sure there’s no leftover snow on your car!