Your complete guide to adverse weather conditions

We are all aware that the UK is in the grips of some terrible weather. The affectionately termed ‘The Beast From The East’ has covered most of the UK in a blanket of snow, with temperatures plummeting well below 0! To make things worse ‘The Beast’ is now being confronted by storm Emma. We’ve complied a blog post to ensure you have all the information you need to stay safe on the roads over the next couple of days.

What does a Red weather warning mean?

Some parts of the country have been given a Red weather warning by the Met Office, but what does this actually mean and how can you prepare for it? A Red weather warning is the highest warning the Met Office can issue meaning weather conditions are severely dangerous and could potentially seriously disrupt travel and day-to-day life. When such warnings are issued, the Met Office advise you to ensure yourself and others are safe from the impact of severely harsh weather conditions. A Red weather warning can bring widespread damage and disruption to travel and power supplies. 

Red weather warnings are not to be taken lightly and started being issued back in 2011. Since then, the Red weather warning the UK received yesterday was only the 9th time we’ve seen this measure used in the UK. Records show this is Scotland’s second ever Red warning and the UK’s first ever Red warning for snow.

If you live in a part of the country that has been issued a Red weather warning, only make journeys if they are completely necessary.

How can I drive safely in the snow and ice?

If you feel safe enough to drive, make sure you leave plenty of time for your journey. Never attempt a journey if you are feeling nervous, you must be confident to drive in extreme weather conditions. In weather conditions like this, being late shouldn’t even enter your mind. There are also some practical driving steps you can take, to hopefully get you to your destination safely.

  • Make sure you wear comfortable and dry footwear.
  • If possible when starting up your car, take off in second gear as this will reduce your wheels slipping. If you have a 4X4, you might have winter mode. If you’re not sure, check your handbook before setting off.
  • Ensure you maintain a consistent speed and leave as much as 10 times the recommended space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Always use lower revs and change up to a higher gear as soon as possible.
  • If you are driving on roads that have not been gritted, be wary of driving in wheel tracks of other vehicles. These tracks can often be compressed snow therefore much icier than driving in fresh snow.
  • Keep calm at all times! Whilst this maybe easier said than done it’s important to remember that controls such as brakes, as well as the steering, accelerator and even gear changing should be operated smoothly and slowly.
  • When driving uphill make sure you have plenty of room in front of you to maintain a constant speed without the need to change gear.
  • In contrast when driving downhill use a low gear and avoid braking unnecessarily, again leaving plenty of space between you and the car in front of you.
  • If you do skid when driving again try not to panic and slam on your brake. If you do skid, steer gently into it, for example if the rear of the car Is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Under no circumstances should you take your hands off the steering wheel.
  • Plan your route. If your commute takes you past bridges, be mindful as these are usually the last to thaw out. If possible, plan another route that takes you on roads that you know will have been gritted.

For further winter driving advice click here to read another one of our blogs.

Is it illegal to drive with snow on your car?

During the last week I am sure you have seen people driving with snow still on their car, or you may not have cleared your own car fully before setting off. Question is, are you breaking the law?

In black and white terms, there is no law that says it is illegal to drive with snow on your car. However, the Highway code stipulates that if driving in adverse weather conditions you must, by law, be able to see clearly out of every glass panel in your car. This is supported by the section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988, meaning it is a legal requirement to have a clear view of the road before you set off.

We’ve said it once and we will say it again, plan enough time. It doesn’t matter in these conditions whether you arrive to your destination a little later, it matters that you arrive safely. If you rush and don’t clear your car properly, you could incur a fine, but more importantly you could be putting your life and the lives of others in danger.

What about having snow on the roof of your car? Again, whilst this isn’t illegal, if the snow from the roof of your car was to hit drivers behind you and caused an accident you could be penalised for ‘driving without due consideration’ or ‘using a motor vehicle in a dangerous condition’. Therefore, it’s really not worth the risk.

Make sure you have a proper de-icer to hand, it only costs a few pounds and can save you a lot of time. Also, be carefully if you are using anything other than a de-icer to clear your car as you could scratch or damage the paintwork.

Finally, if you were to be involved in an accident and your car is not cleared properly, it could mean you are at fault and your insurer may withhold a pay-out. Moral of the story, set your alarm ten minutes earlier and allow yourself the time to ensure your car is cleared safely before setting off on your journey.

What do I need to know about storm Emma?

Storm Emma is set to hit the UK during the night of Thursday 01/03 into Friday 02/03 morning, bringing more blizzards and biting winds, which is set to cause further travel disruption. As Emma collides with ‘The Beast From The East’ we’re set to face the weather phenomenon freezing rain.  

What is freezing rain? It’s a weather phenomenon which sees water droplets freeze into snow before passing through patches of warmer air and melting into rain. This rain then passes through sub-zero temperatures nearer the ground and freezes when it come into contact with cold surfaces like the road, or car windscreens, creating a sheet of ice.

This invincible sheet of ice that is set for the end of the week will turn roads in parts of the country into ice rinks. Tuesday 27/02 saw the busiest day on record for the RAC, so if you don’t need to drive, please don’t.

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