Breaking down is never a pleasant experience – especially on the motorway. It’s even worse if you have to wait for recovery, outside your vehicle, in cold and wintry weather. You’ll also want your vehicle to be in the best condition to handle difficult driving conditions in severe weather. So it’s a good idea to get your vehicle serviced before the winter to reduce the chance of problems.
Then use this following handy reminder for pre-journey checks. It’s called the POWDERY checklist:
- PETROL (or diesel). Have you got enough? Do you know where to fill up?
- OIL – check levels once a month
- WATER – check radiator and screenwash once a month
- DAMAGE – check wipers, lights etc for signs of wear and tear or damage
- ELECTRICS – check lights, indicators and controls are working properly
- RUBBER – are your tyres well inflated, legal, with good tread and free from damage?
- YOURSELF – are you fit to drive? Have you slept well? Are you taking any medication(s) that could make it unsafe for you to drive?
If you are planning to travel with pets, ensure that animals are safe and secure, and will not be a distraction to people travelling in your vehicle – seek appropriate advice before you travel.
Carry an emergency kit
Gather together the following items and pack in your vehicle at the start of the winter season, you never know when you might need them!
- Ice scraper and de-icer
- Torch and spare batteries – or a wind-up torch
- Warm clothes and blankets – for you and all passengers
- First aid kit
- Jump leads
- A shovel
- Road atlas
- Sunglasses (the low winter sun and glare off snow can be dazzling)
Be informed – check the latest traffic and weather
Have you planned your journey?
In severe and wintry weather it’s even more important to plan your journey. The Highways Agency provides up to the minute traffic reports for its network of 4,300 miles of motorways and major A roads across England.
Just a few minutes checking information services before you set off can make all the difference to your journey.
Before you set off
The Highways Agency website includes the latest traffic reports, maps showing how the traffic is flowing on England’s motorways and major A roads, a motorway flow diagram, views from CCTV cameras, average speeds and the displays on motorway message signs.
- Road and weather conditions may change, drive with care
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.
Additional information and advice on driving in adverse weather conditions is available in the Highway Code or by visiting the gov.uk website.
- Updates on the move
If you are away from your computer or have already set out on your journey, there are still lots of ways to get Highways Agency live traffic information.
On overhead message signs – motorway control centres will flash up important travel messages, including warning you of delays and advising of alternative routes. There are also automatic signs telling you how long it will take traffic to reach certain destinations at that time.
- When you take a break
On long journeys, consider taking a break at regular intervals – and that’s an ideal time to check the traffic conditions on the road ahead.
While you are safely parked, check the latest information via your mobile phone, iPhone or laptop. Never stop on the hard shoulder to do this and never use your mobile phone while driving.
The Highways Agency also has information screens displaying live traffic updates at most motorway service areas.
For more information visit www.highways.gov.uk/winter
Choosing your route in severe weather
The Highways Agency looks after England’s motorways and major A roads, and Telford & Wrekin Council look after all the other roads in the borough. Both work as hard as they can to keep their networks clear during severe weather.
- Stick to the main roads where you can and avoid exposed routes.
You should drive with care and respect the road conditions wherever you drive, but not every road can be treated. You need to take even more care driving on minor roads.
Even if the time and location of snowfall is perfectly forecast, it will still take time to clear the snow after it has fallen. Remember though, snow ploughs can’t get through if the road or motorway is full of stationary traffic, so give Highways Agency and Telford & Wrekin teams the space they need to do their job and help you on your journey!
Steep hills and exposed roads are also likely to present more challenging driving conditions, so if you could avoid these it might make your journey easier.
For more information visit www.highways.gov.uk/winter
- Check weather updates
Take weather conditions into account when planning your route by visiting The Met Office website or listening to local radio broadcasts including the fabulous BBC Radio Shropshire.
Always allow extra time in severe weather. Listen to warnings or advice and consider whether or not your journey is essential.
If severe weather is forecast, can you plan your journey to travel before the worst of the weather? Or wait until it has passed? Or at least allow time after the snowfall for crews to do their work clearing the roads? It all helps.
Remember, in severe weather you will need to allow more time for your journey. If severe weather is forecast are you able to change your travel plans? Can you work at home, for example?