Winter travel checklist
If you're planning to drive during severe weather, you should pay extra attention to planning your journey. Ask yourself the following questions before you start your journey:
- is it essential that I travel now, or can I wait until the weather improves?
- can I use a different route?
- are there any delays on my chosen route?
- do I have an emergency kit in my car?
- is my car prepared for travel in bad weather?
- how might I need to change the way I drive to suit travelling conditions?
- which places on my route might I need to pay extra attention to?
While you're driving, remember to ask yourself:
- if I had to brake suddenly, could I stop safely within the distance I can clearly see ahead of me?
Preparing for winter travel
There are lots of things you can do to make your journey less stressful, even if it's a short one. Simple steps, such as taking an emergency kit and checking your route for delays before you set out, and taking an alternative route if you need to, can make your journey easier.
When you’re on the road, pay attention to the changing road, traffic and weather conditions. Be ready to slow down and take more care if you need to, particularly on bends and exposed roads. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security – even if you drive every day on the same stretch of road.
Making sure your car is ready
Your vehicle should be winter-ready - even here in Jersey. There's always a chance that severe weather could keep you on the road longer than expected, perhaps because of accidents and other delays, or simply the need to slow down. You should also prepare your vehicle for severe weather if you intend to go abroad and take your car with you. Make sure you:
- have your vehicle serviced
- replace the battery if you don't think it's reliable
- check and replace the anti-freeze in the radiator
- check the bulbs in your lights, and make sure your lights are clean
- replace any tyres and / or make sure they're inflated to the recommended pressure for your car
- clean your windscreen regularly
- clear windows of ice, snow or mist - inside and out
- take a map
Putting together an emergency kit
Keep an emergency kit in your car - it only takes a few minutes to assemble a basic kit, and you never know when you might need it. Even if you only drive in Jersey and don't expect to be on the road for long, you may find yourself stranded, unable to use a certain road, or even offering help to someone else in need of it. Put the following items in your car:
- ice scraper and de-icer
- warm clothes and spare shoes / boots
- first-aid kit
- jump leads
- snow shovel
- food and drink (warm if possible)
Changing road and weather conditions
Be aware of changing conditions - even if it’s a road you use regularly. You may need to change the way you drive, especially when a road has been treated (with grit or salt), or in particular 'danger spots', for example where ice is more likely to form or snow is likely to melt much more slowly.
Be especially careful where:
- there are changes in road elevation or exposure
- the road passes under or over a bridge
- the road is shaded by structures on the roadside, or is in a shaded valley etc
- a road or street is not used regularly
- the road bends and there is a greater risk of loss of control. Reduce your speed when approaching a bend and don’t brake suddenly
Driving in poor weather
In any kind of poor weather, make sure you slow down and keep well back from the vehicle in front of you to avoid a collision.
- use dipped headlights so other drivers can see you
- if the fog is very thick, switch your fog lights and rear high intensity lights on
- fog can be patchy - keep your speed slow and regular so that you don't enter more fog at a faster speed
Ice and snow
- clear snow from your roof before you drive, so it doesn't fall onto your windscreen and block your view
- beware of ice and remember you can't always see it - so look for clues like ice on the pavement or on your windscreen, before you start your journey. If your tyres are making virtually no noise on the road it could be a sign that you’re driving on ice
- don’t brake – it will just lock up your wheels and you’ll skid further
- slow down and stay well back from the vehicle in front of you - it can take up to twice as long to stop in rain
- if you 'aquaplane' on surface water, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down - don’t brake or steer suddenly because you have no control of the steering or brakes
- check weather conditions before you drive, and take extra care
- be especially careful on open stretches of road that are exposed to strong crosswinds, or when passing bridges, high-sided vehicles or gaps in trees
- be aware of cyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians and other vehicles passing you
- try to avoid driving through surface water as you might flood your engine - the deepest water is usually nearest the kerb
- if you must drive through water, drive slowly, use a low gear and try to keep the engine revving at a high rate. Move forward continuously to avoid stalling the engine. If you're driving an automatic vehicle, engage and hold in a low gear
- test your brakes after driving through water - they may be ineffective