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The Highway Code has been updated at regular intervals over the years - when was the last time you brushed up on it?
DRIVING TIPS FROM BRISTOL ADVANCED MOTORISTS
SNOW JOKE: RESPECT THE WEATHER!
As motorists in many areas in the UK find every winter, an unseasonable snowfall can cause various driving problems. It's because we are not geared up for snow that it always seems to catch us out.
Respect the weather: if snow is forecast, before you set off, ask yourself if your journey is really necessary. If it is, ensure that you have plenty of fuel, and if you can, put a shovel and some matting in the boot. You may not need them, but together with a vacuum flask and a warm coat, they can make all the difference if you do get stuck.
A mobile phone and membership of a breakdown service are both a godsend in bad weather conditions. If your journey has been delayed due to the snow, do not try to make up time by driving faster; find somewhere safe to pull over, ring ahead and then concentrate on driving safely.
Except in extreme cases, motorways are kept free of snow and ice by gritter lorries but be aware that the same is not always true of slip roads and hard shoulders and remember that bridges are particularly susceptible to freezing up before the roads and remaining frozen even after the initial snow has melted.
If you have to drive on snow, do it as if you are trying to walk on eggs without breaking them! Stay in a higher gear than usual as this will reduce the chances of accelerator pedal movement leading to loss of traction.
Pay close attention to the road surface. If you keep to the left hand lane when snow starts to settle, the weight of traffic will tend to clear the surface. Likewise avoid the right hand lane which will always be the first to become impassable.
When snow or slush accumulates in ridges between lanes avoid putting your wheels on these unless you absolutely have to and aim to use your controls with extra smoothness. As a general rule, drop your speed and allow a greater stopping distance when the weather conditions are deteriorating.
Bear in mind that if you are driving on ice you will need over 10 times the normal distance to stop which means that at just 30mph you require 230 metres (760ft) of clear road ahead of you before you can come to a stop. At 60mph in the same conditions you will need 730 metres (2400ft).
And if you do find yourself in a slide - do yourself a big favour - DON'T BRAKE!! If you're already on the brakes when you get into a skid, COME OFF THE BRAKES and use just steering!!
Don't rely on ABS (antilock braking system) or ESP (electronic stability programme) or even Traction control to get you out of trouble because THEY WILL NOT WORK ON SNOW AND ICE!! Once you lose traction with the road surface through braking - you've lost control of your destiny. At least, if you come off the brakes you can apply steering.
Of the three pivotal tasks which tyres have to perform (steering, braking and accelerating) brakes will usually win; resulting with the wheels locking! So remember: if you're in a skid - remove the cause, and that usually means taking your foot off the brakes.
Get Advanced training – take advantage of the IAM’s ‘Skill for Life’ advanced driving course which will teach you the skills needed to increase not only your MPG – but your driving skills.
For more information on becoming an Advanced Driver, telephone 07071 201173 or email