2012 January 9

The weather is unpredictable and driving can become unpredictable too … whether we’re a passenger or a driver, it’s vital to be prepared for changeable weather and poor road conditions, particularly because traffic police suggest that during bad weather the majority of collisions would have been preventable with better preparation.

The first thing is to remember that speed limits on road signs are maximum ones, set for ideal road conditions when the surface is dry and the temperatures are warm. Slick surfaces require a longer stopping distance and poor visibility can result in collisions.

Top tips for safe driving include:

1. Checking road and weather conditions before departure and, if necessary, postponing travel.
2. Ensuring the vehicle has enough fuel to reach the destination with some to spare for detours.
3. Taking a mobile phone, blankets, food and water and sensible clothing is essential – remember that you may need layers to keep you warm and then allow you to cool down as temperatures change.
4. A winter jacket in a high vis colour may be a life-saver in poor weather if somebody has to leave the vehicle to put out a warning triangle.
5. If you do have to leave a vehicle, and it’s never recommended, then keeping warm and dry is vital: warm hats, high visibility clothing and gloves and socks with good thermal properties will allow people to keep their body temperature at appropriate levels while out in the weather.
6. Take a clockwork torch so that you can use it if you have to leave the vehicle, and remember to pack a first aid kit in the body of the vehicle so that any small problems can be taken care of without having to pull off the road and open the boot.

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