So, while I write this blog I am in my office looking out upon the incredible snow fall we in the UK are having right now. We are based at Royal Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire and the snow that has fallen in the past couple of days is more than we have seen for more than 10 years in this area, so it is making quite an impact.
While out walking our dog, I have also noticed a few cars out and about but I have to ask how urgent is their journey?
I have every admiration for the emergency services and how they attend desperate people when they become stuck in snow and worse, when accidents happen which they will.
As a professional chauffeur, I have to make the decision every day we have weather like this, whether to drive or not to drive - thankfully, this is not very often. The decision I make, is all about safety and I never want to let any client of mine down, but safety must come first, even if I have to say to a client that I am not travelling today because of the road conditions.
To make that decision, I know my clients would understand, as I also know that they value their safety let alone their life.
Accidents happen and it is not always about ourselves, but can be caused by others too.
This leads me onto my tips for driving in the snow which I have done and do, depending upon how bad and deep it is. There are actual courses to teach drivers how to do this and books have been written, so the advice I now give, is by all means not the A-Z knowledge.
- If your journey is not absolutely necessary and/or life and death that you do it, then quite simply - DON’T
- It is well known that 4 wheel drive cars are best in these conditions, followed by front wheel drive, so if like mine, your car is rear wheel drive, think carefully before going out
- Before setting off, ensure all windows are clear and all snow is cleared off your vehicle - it is illegal and dangerous to other road users to drive when there is a load of snow on your roof, that can blow off into the path of other road users
- Your lights must be clean and number plate clearly visible
- If you do venture out in very bad conditions, then make sure you have inside the car, an emergency kit of de-icer and ice scraper, torch, snow shovel, warm blankets, boots, as well as first aid kit, water & food supply and your mobile phone is fully charged.
- It is best that your car has a full tank of fuel as well, so make that your first stop should you have to go out
- Onto driving - drive with care, even if the roads are treated
- Keep well back from other road users
- The advice on stopping distances is quite simply in the rain allow twice the normal distance, but in icy conditions, this can be ten times greater than on dry roads, so plan accordingly
- So, what are the normal stopping distances:
- 20 mph - 12 metres
- 20 mph - 23 metres
- 40 mph - 36 metres
- 50 mph - 53 metres
- 60 mph - 73 metres
- 70 mph - 96 metres
- Use the technical helps on your car, like
- Winter Mode, which optimises stability of the vehicle to suit slippery conditions, when grip is reduced.
- Dynamic Stability Control controls the vehicle stability in critical driving conditions - helps to correct understeer or oversteer
- and others - know your car
- So, it is important to know your car and drive accordingly. Most cars have ABS now, but you should drive taking care without relying on ABS, but good to know it is there to help braking in an emergency
- When approaching a junction or bend, plan well before, so as to avoid sharp braking
- Do not accelerate quickly when moving away, but pull away in a higher gear like second or third instead of first, gradually, when safe to do so
- Finally patience - do not rush any part of driving when in icy and snowy conditions and respect all other road users
I hope the above is helpful, it all comes down to valuing your life and others - too many accidents happen on unfit roads and I have heard so many stories of what people call a necessary journey, when the truth is, the journey can more often than not, wait.
Safe travelling all.