I read in the news today that we are about to be hit by a big freeze, bringing with it ice and snow, and it immediately took my mind back to the car accident K and I had almost a year ago (20 January 2013).
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a massive petrol head and have always loved driving, but since that accident I’ve become a REALLY nervous passenger and I have little rushes of panic when I’m behind the wheel myself. For instance, going along a dual carriageway the other day I noticed that at the edge of the hard shoulder there was an embankment dropping down into a field. Cue images of my car having a puncture, me losing control and my car flying off the side (we went down a mini embankment in our crash). Terrifying.
So, with the 1-year anniversary coming up and the snow on it’s way (supposedly), I thought I’d have a little look for ways in which drivers can be safe when the temperature drops:
- When de-icing your car, don’t leave it running and go back indoors! I know it’s cold and really boring while you wait for your windows to clear, but this is the moment car thieves strike – and you won’t be covered by your insurers!
- Make sure all your windows and mirrors have completely de-misted and all ice has been removed, to ensure all your sight-lines are clear. Don’t forget to clear ice from your lights as well, as this can dim them and prevent other road users seeing them.
- If you have snow on the roof of your car, make sure you get it all off – it’s illegal to drive with it up there! Also make sure your number plates are clear – this is an offence too.
- Make sure your tyres are fully inflated and had good tread on them. This will improve your grip on slippery surfaces and could be the factor that makes all the difference between a slight scare and an accident. There are lots of places you can get replacement tyres, such as Tyre-Shopper.co.uk and National.co.uk, so there’s really no excuse not to keep on top of this!
- Drive sensibly and slowly, with a good distance between you and the car in front – it takes approximately 3 times longer to stop when the roads are icy.
- Make sure you pack an emergency kit for worst-case-scenarios: warm clothing, a blanket, shovel, sheet of cardboard (which you can place under the wheels to help with traction if you get stuck), mobile phone (and in-car charger if you have one), a torch with fresh batteries, non-perishable snacks and bottled water. If you’re extra organised, you could take a flask of something hot with you each day.
All of these things are fairly obvious when you see them written down, but in everyday life we tend to go about what we have to do and forget about making these provisions and changes to our routine.
Unfortunately, by driving safely you can’t always prevent an accident – ours was at a ridiculously low speed as K was driving really carefully, but we hit black ice and there was nothing he could do to stop the car continuing on it’s path – but by taking journeys a little bit slower and thinking about the route ahead, hopefully more of us can remain safe.