All Weather Driving

 In England, the likelyhood of having to use snow chains, or switching over to snow tyres like in so many European countries is minimal.  In fact, you have to ask permission to change to snow tyres in this country.  So here are some tips on how to prepare and drive in poor conditions.

Ice and snow


Ice and snow is arguably the biggest hazard due to the fact they make the roads completely unpredictable. Here are some tips on how to deal with these conditions:

1. Always keep a warm blanket, a High-Vis jacket and a chocolate bar with you in case you get stranded somewhere.  Make sure your phone is charged before going out.
2. Warm water poured across the windscreens will quickly get rid of frost.  Do not use hot water, it may crack the windscreen if it's very cold.
3. Avoid driving through the first snowfall as the roads probably won't be gritted.
4. Go slow. Black ice can form anywhere. Be particularly careful on roundabouts and corners.
5. Pull over in blizzard like conditions - it's not worth your life if you can't see where you are going.

Water


Flash flooding is common place these days.  Surface water sits in many places.  The Portway on Southmeads test route, a ford by Henbury and the Bath Road on Brislington test routes are places that regularly flood and have sitting water after heavy rain.

1. Your stoppig distance will double in wet conditions.  you should be at least 4 seconds from the car infront of you.
2. Watch out for 'aquaplaning'.  If you have to go through a body of water, come off the gas and roll through the puddle.  Slaming on the brake or pushing on the gas could cause the car to loose contact with the surface and results in a spin.  Do not turn the wheel suddenly either.  Your steering will become light when going through a puddle, this is normal.  Keep the wheel straight.In November 2009 I witnessed two cars aquaplane on The Portway on different days, it can happen anywhere!
3. When turning, water can make the car behave like it's on ice.  Another reason to go slow.
4. Don't drive through puddles.  It's against the law to splash pedestrians.  The police will arrest you for this.  However, remember not to make oncoming traffic slow down.
5. Do not drive through fast moving water, like a large ford or small stream.  You could be sweeped away.
6. Test your brakes after traveling through a ford or small stream to make sure they are still working.
7. Keep your distance from the car infront - spray dramatically reduces visibility.
8. Only drive in severe weather if it's absolutely necessary.

Wind


Crosswinds are massivley underestimated. They affect high-sided vehicles, like people carriers and vans, but can also push smaller cars too.

1. Be aware of your environment.  Driving through open spaces, like parks, fields and most motorways are when your likely to be susceptible.
2. It should go without saying, keep both hands on the wheel.  It's so much safer as you can control the car incase it's blown out of position.
3. Keep an eye out for other road users being blown around.  Especially cyclists.
4. Go slow.  At low speeds your car won't be blown around as easily.