After snow and ice hitting the UK this week, and with weather warnings issued every day since Monday, drivers throughout the country have been struggling to get from A to B, with some even getting stuck for several hours on motorways.
On the coldest day recorded in 13 years, earlier this week drivers on the M25 were met with a huge snowstorm, and many were left stranded in sub-zero temperatures.
With the UK set for more snow and ice, drivers must be equipped with essential items in case they break down or get stuck. We have suggested some must-haves to pack in your vehicle that could potentially save your life.
Rule 275 of the Highway Code says if you’re stranded on the motorway, you must exit the vehicle, once it’s safe to do so, and wear high visibility clothing to ensure you can be seen by other drivers.
“Leaving your vehicle in clothing which makes you easily visible to other drivers can be is hugely important, especially on busy roads. The winter weather can bring with it low visibility due to poor weather such as fog or snow and therefore high visibility vest are a must” advises Richard Owen-Hughes from Driver Hire.
He goes on to say, “it’s advisable to always have a high vis in your vehicle in case of emergencies, and make sure to pack enough for other passengers.”
Should you break down on a dual carriage way or standard road, placing a warning triangle 45 metres behind your broken-down vehicle, will warn oncoming drivers of a hazard nearby.
Richard explains, “warning triangles are crucial for providing oncoming drivers enough time to react, especially in snowy weather conditions. Use them when possible, but it is advised to not use these in extremely windy weather conditions or on the motorway, as they can blow onto the road.”
Often, drivers who have broken down can face a long wait to be rescued from the road. Having enough layers and packing protective clothing will help you stay warm.
Richard adds, “a warm waterproof coat, waterproof boots, a jumper, gloves, and a hat could be the difference between being freezing in cold temperatures or staying as comfortable as possible. This goes for all passengers, not just the driver, so it’s advisable to have warm clothing packed in the vehicle at all times.”
Having clear vision is hugely important when concentrating on the road, even more so when the vehicle is subject to poor weather.
“An icy windscreen is extremely dangerous, and in conditions as cold as this week, a de icer and scraper is essential for keeping your vision clear when on the road.”
Richard adds “not only will this keep you and other road users safe, it is also a legal requirement to clear your windscreen before setting off, and you can face considerably high fines if you do not have clear visibility.”
Winter weather brings with it darker mornings and evenings and finding yourself broken down on an unlit roadside is a dangerous situation and can increase the likelihood of a collision. Make sure to have an industry standard torch with spare batteries to alert any oncoming traffic that you are there.
Richard advises, “Having a working torch gives drivers the best chance of being seen by other road users if their vehicle lights have failed. It also allows people to check their own vehicle if in an emergency – I would advise a headtorch to completely free up your hands.”
Whilst stranded, vehicles will often eat through their batteries with hazard lights and charging phones, causing them to go flat. When in trouble, you need to be able call for help.
Richard says, “having a multiuse battery pack to charge electrical devices could mean you can still make that call to a helpline, and get out of a dangerous situation.”
He adds “With the weather getting worse and driving conditions becoming increasingly dangerous, drivers must be more aware than usual and take extra precautions when it comes to safety.”
“It would also be beneficial to bring plenty of water, a thermos with a warm drink, and some high energy snacks if there’s the chance you might get stuck for a while”
For more information on driving safely, these tips for winter driving are valuable for keeping safe on the road in harsh conditions.