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Preparing for the worst: Winter driving

Last year the UK saw it’s warmest-ever February day, with the mercury hitting 20.6°C (69°F) at Trawsgoed, Ceredigion, on February 25. That said, just a few years ago, there was snow on the ground in many parts of the country over the Easter weekend in 2013.

So when it comes to weather, it is wise to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

With that in mind, here’s a list of useful items to have in your vehicle should the weather take a turn for the worse this winter:

  1. Tow rope – File this under “what I need to buy”!
  2. A shovel – You’ve probably got one in the garden, but over the winter months it’s going to prove far more useful in your boot.
  3. Boots – Wellies, snowshoes etc, and of course, thick socks are also needed! Remember: Make sure you wear suitable shoes while driving -our winter shoes may have to be stored elsewhere in the vehicle, as the thicker the sole, the less feel you will have on the peddles.
  4. Hazard warning triangle – You’ve might have one in the boot, but do you know where and how to access it? If you have to use it take care in live traffic – the triangle should be at least 45 metres from the vehicle.
  5. De-icing equipment – Finally, something you’ve probably already got in the car. But make sure it’s not empty! A fruitless attempt at spraying the windscreen at 7am isn’t the best start to the day.
  6. First aid kit – And make sure it’s well stocked and in date  order. If you’ve got any specific medical problems make sure you’ve got the appropriate medicine stored.
  7. A working torch – Please note the word ‘working’!
  8. A car blanket – If you breakdown and the heating isn’t working you really don’t want to be sitting in a freezing car for hours, or worse, standing by the side of the road.
  9. Warm clothes – You’re probably already wearing warm clothes, but you should have an equally warm alternative stored in the vehicle in case you have to leave the car and your clothes get wet or damaged.
  10. Emergency rations – Including hot drink in a flask – non-alcoholic, of course! Take your pick food wise, but consider foods that will keep your energy levels up.
  11. Mobile phone – Make sure it’s fully charged. And if possible have a charger or power bank with you.
  12. A high visibility vest for use when you are outside the vehicle.

The best way to avoid winter driving problems is to avoid driving in severe weather unless it is absolutely imperative, as doing so can place not only you but the emergency services in danger.

For further advice please refer to RoSPA’s winter driving factsheet.

Nick Lloyd, Head of Road Safety at RoSPA

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