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Winter Driving Advice

In recent years, winter months in Devon and Cornwall have been mild and, as a result of this, few motorists have had experience of driving in snow or icy conditions.

As a road user (motorist or pedestrian), you will have a responsibility to yourself, your passengers and other road users. Here are some suggestions as to what you can do to assist in having a safe journey.

  • Consider whether your journey is necessary.
  • Obtain the latest weather information.
  • Plan your journey (route and timing), allowing yourself extra time.
  • Tell someone of your plans.
  • Consider carrying winter tyres or snow chains.
  • Do you have experience in winter driving? (consider a course in skid control)
  • As a pedestrian are you wearing warm clothing and proper footwear?
  • Could you use alternative means of transport?
  • Consider joining a recognised breakdown / recovery service.
  • When driving, travel slowly and at a safe distance from the vehicle in front to avoid harsh breaking or steering.
  • When driving always use dipped headlights when visibility is poor.
  • It is better to travel a little further on a main road that has been treated with salt than to use untreated minor roads.

Be Warned - Roads May Still Be Icy

No guarantee can be given that roads will always be completely clear of ice or snow.

It takes time for salt to become effective after roads are salted. Rain can wash salt off the roads leaving them prone to re-icing. In severe cold weather with the temperatures below -8°c, salt will not be as effective on icy roads.

'Dawn Frost' occurs on dry roads when early morning dew falls on cold road surfaces and freezes on impact.

If raining, salting will commence when the rain stops to avoid the salt being washed away. Traffic congestion will almost certainly delay the salting operation.

Finally, even the most carefully organised procedures can suffer setbacks or mechanical breakdowns and, as a result, some salting routes may not be treated as quickly as programmed.

Before Starting A Journey Check

  • Your tyre pressures are at the recommended level and that the tread depth is correct. Don't forget your spare.
  • Your vehicle's lights are clean and in working order.
  • Your wiper system is working effectively, your washer bottles are full and contain a suitable additive to prevent freezing.
  • Your battery is in good condition, topped up and fully charged.
  • Your anti-freeze is at the correct strength.
  • Make sure that all your windows and mirrors are completely clear of ice and condensation.
  • Keep available a can of de-icer and a scraper. Also cover your car's windscreen with a blanket overnight.
  • For longer journeys, consider taking a flask of hot drink, a blanket and a shovel.

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