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Prolonged mild spell set to come to a frosty end
With the prolonged mild spell set to come to a frosty end, the AA is advising drivers not to be complacent, even on local journeys, as its research shows that three-quarters of motorists are ill-prepared for winter weather.
The AA/Populus survey* of 20,073 AA members also found that women (83%) are more likely to leave it to chance compared to men (70%); with drivers in London (83%) and Northern Ireland (81%) least prepared.
Despite the obvious risks, more than a quarter (28%) don’t even take warm clothing with them; and around one-in-ten (9%) admit to not carrying any winter equipment in their car.
The next few days could be a bit of a sharp wake-up call for drivers who aren’t adequately prepared
Andy Smith, AA patrol of the year
Andy Smith, AA patrol of the year, says: “The next few days could be a bit of a sharp wake-up call for drivers who aren’t adequately prepared. It’s just not worth taking a gamble and it’s no effort to put a few extra warm layers and other winter essentials in the car.
“Keep the things you need to hand, for example, a road atlas in case of unexpected diversions and food like cereal bars or nuts and a warm drink.
“It’s easy to think of the car as like a big overcoat – a home from home – but winter weather is often quite unpredictable, so in case of an accident or delay, you want to make sure you’re warm, dry and can call for assistance, if required.”
Andy says: “Cold weather puts the whole vehicle under strain so if your car is due a service, or is showing signs of wear, then now’s the time to get it sorted.
“Clean your car and treat any little patches of rust. After so much rain, a squirt of WD-40 in the door locks can disperse any water and stop them freezing. With lots of winter grime, check the condition of the wiper blades and top up the washer bottle with neat screen-wash, so it’s less likely to freeze in the nozzles.
“Make sure the tyres have plenty of tread – we recommend 3mm minimum during winter – and that the pressures are correct. If you’re on snow, don’t reduce the pressures in the hope of getting better grip – that worked for cross-ply tyres but not radials. If you take snow chains or snow socks make sure you are able to fit them before you need to use them.
“A car’s handbook details the basic checks but, if you’re unsure what to do, many garages offer free or low price winter checks where they can test things like the concentration of the car’s antifreeze.”
Andy continues: “It’s very difficult to predict the extent of the weather but there could be some disruption even on local journeys, so keep an eye on the weather and traffic reports and plan accordingly.
“Even if there’s no snow where you’re travelling, it’s likely to be icy in places. Keep your speed down, particularly on rural and ungritted side roads, and take extra care when approaching junctions and roundabouts.”
The AA is putting extra patrols on duty and has its severe weather team, AA Special Operations, on standby. They use modified Land Rovers and crews are trained in advanced 4x4 driving. The team works alongside expert meteorologist Matthew Hugo BSc FRMetS, who has a blog on winter weather.
(11 January 2013)
* Source: Populus interviewed 20,073 adults aged 18+ on The AA/Populus online panel between 27 September and 4 October 2012. Populus www.populus.co.uk is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.