Help keep our roads safe this winter

Published 19th Jan 2023

Keep us smiling by following this advice

The sun is low, the cars are icy and the roads and paths can be dangerous, but there are some things you can do to help.

Ourselves and our colleagues at @NorthYorkshire Police have noticed a bit of an increase in the number of collisions taking place on our roads over recent days. Some of them are believed to have been caused by the weather conditions, so let’s work together to try and prevent this happening to you.

There is a lot of information here and is a long read BUT it is worth it (we promise) and in particular new drivers will find it useful, so please share it with them.

Packing an emergency kit

This is always a good idea, and your kit should include:

  • De-icer
  • Ice scraper
  • Torch
  • Warm clothing including boots
  • First aid kit
  • Jump leads
  • Shovel

Taking a hot drink and emergency food in case your vehicle breaks down or you get stuck

Low sun

According to the Department for Transport, around 3,900 people are injured in incidents involving low, dazzling sun each year – that is a lot of people!

So, why does it happen? Well, in winter, the sun rises and sets during the morning and evening commute (handy!) its low angle in the sky pushes rays below the sun visor and into the eyes of drivers. It is even worse when the road is wet as the sun reflects off the damp surface creating glare making judging distances and spotting hazards very difficult.

What can you do to help? Unfortunately, we can’t switch off the sun but there are a few things you can do to make your journey safer.

Make sure your screen is clear. A dirty screen can make dazzle worse and can block your view. Don’t worry, a trip to the car wash isn’t necessary, a bit of water and a soft brush should do the trick – if you can’t reach the middle of your windscreen, please don’t climb on the bonnet, a long handed or telescopic brush is a much better idea.

Talking of the bonnet, lift it up and check your screenwash levels, topping up if required. We know some people use water, and this is more tempting during the current cost of living increase, but we recommend using screenwash, one specifically formulated for winter weather is even better as there is less chance of it freezing. It will also clear your windscreen more efficiently.

Investing in a decent pair of sunglasses is also a great idea.

Ice and snow

Local weather forecasts are an excellent place to check for information on potential ice and snow warnings. If your journey is not essential, and a warning is in place, do not drive.

If you MUST drive, there are a few things you can do to make your journey a bit safer – this may seem like a long list, but, in addition to the advice above, please:

Mirrors, windows, windscreen (front and back) and lights – make sure they are all clear of snow and ice, and demisted

Check your planned route is clear and there are no road closures in place (don’t even attempt to ignore these)

Be prepared for the road conditions to change over relatively short distances

Drive at slow speed in as high a gear as possible, accelerate and brake very gently

Drive particularly slowly on bends where loss of control is more likely. Brake progressively on the straight before you reach the bend. Having slowed down, steer smoothly round the bend, avoiding sudden actions.

This one may seem obvious, and we have said it a few times already this year, but slowing down, increasing stopping distances and allowing yourself more time for your journey, are all excellent ideas.