Consider whether your journey is really necessary before you venture on snow-covered roads
DRIVERS are being urged to think twice before venturing out when heavy snow is forecast.
Peter Rodger, chief examiner of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, says when there's snow on the ground it's best to avoid travelling unless absolutely necessary.
He also warns against ignoring police warnings or advice to not travel on specific routes and suggests that some workers consider working from home or changing their work schedules if necessary.
If staying in the warmth of home is not an option, the IAM offers the following advice on driving safely when conditions are difficult:
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Make sure your windows are clear before you set off and take the time to thoroughly clear your roof and windows of snow.
When driving in snow, get your speed right: not too fast that you risk losing control, not so slow that you risk losing momentum when you need it.
Start gently from a stationary position, avoiding high revs. Stay in a higher gear for better control and, if it is slippery, in a manual car move off in a higher gear rather than automatically using first.
If you find yourself in a skid, take your feet off the pedals and steer; only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.
Double or even triple your normal stopping distance from the vehicle in front so you are not just relying on your brakes to stop.
It's better to think ahead as you drive to keep moving, even if it is at walking pace.
Plan your journey around busier roads as they are more likely to have been gritted. Avoid using short cuts on minor roads because they are less likely to be cleared or treated with salt, especially country lanes and housing areas.
Bends are a particular problem in slippery conditions. Slow down well before you get to the bend, so that by the time you turn the steering wheel you have already lost enough speed.
On a downhill slope, get your speed low before you start the descent, and do not let it build up. It is much easier to keep it low than to try to slow down.
And if the worst does happen:
Keep track of where you are. If you do have to call for assistance, you need to be able to tell the breakdown or emergency services your location so they can find you.
If you must leave your vehicle to telephone for assistance, find a safe place to stand away from the traffic flow; the next driver could lose control in the same place.
On motorways and dual carriageways it is always better to leave your vehicle and stand a short distance behind and to the safe side of it. Don't stand in front of it if at all possible.
To help drivers stay safe this winter, the IAM has launched its winter driving campaign which includes the dedicated website drivingadvice.org.uk with traffic updates, weather forecasts and tips on how to drive safely in winter.