Prepare for icy blast

AA warns unprepared drivers of hypothermia risk

30 January 2009

You could be fined and get three points if the police consider your car a danger to others

The AA is warning motorists to ensure they carry warm clothes, after encountering a number of unprepared drivers "flirting with hypothermia" at breakdowns during the last big freeze.

The warning from the UK's biggest breakdown service comes as Britain braces for another icy blast with sleet and snow and a wind chill of minus several degrees expected across many eastern and southern areas.

AA Patrol of the Year Andy Taylor says:

"During the last cold snap we saw a lot more breakdowns but very few drivers were completely prepared. Sometimes I found people in sub-zero temperatures wearing little more than you would expect on a mild spring day. Some had small children with them in similar clothing.

"People often treat their car as an overcoat. But when you break down you are suddenly vulnerable to the weather. If you break down on a motorway, the safety advice is to get out of the car and wait behind the barrier. Unless you have extra clothes you really are flirting with hypothermia."

The AA advises motorists to carry an emergency kit in their car – including a fully charged mobile, de-icers, ice-scrapers, and spare warm clothing or blankets – to avoid getting caught out.

AA advice

  • Check local weather and traffic conditions before setting off, and if conditions are particularly bad, don't travel
  • Drive only as fast as conditions allow, and remember that stopping distances are ten times longer in ice and snow
  • Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving in heavy snow. Use all the car's controls – accelerator, brakes, clutch and steering – as gently and progressively as possible
  • Wear comfortable, dry shoes: cumbersome, snow-covered boots will slip on the pedals
  • Carry an ice-scraper, de-icer, food, hot flask, blanket, warning triangle, and a fully charged mobile in the car
  • Clear snow from the roof as well as from windows. Snow piled up on the roof can fall onto the windscreen obscuring your view and can also be a hazard to other road users. You could be fined and receive three penalty points if the police consider your car a danger to other road users
  • Keep to main roads as they are more likely to be gritted and will be patrolled by police
  • Read more winter driving advice »

An AA Patrol Landrover in snow

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02 February 2009