Winter road safety advice

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The winter weather seems to have arrived with more predicted for the rest of the week. To make sure you stay safe Police Scotland have released some winter road safety advice.

Being prepared for winter can be as easy as a few simple steps before planning a journey on the road:

  • Check the weather forecast and road conditions
  • If the weather is poor or the road surface is dangerous, consider whether you need to travel right now or if you can wait until the situation improves
  • Consider alternate routes
  • Consider alternative modes of transport
  • Allow extra time for your journey
  • Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged
  • Let people know where you are going and when you expect to arrive.

Driving in bad weather

Be mindful of the road conditions when you drive; bad weather is often blamed for causing accidents however the real cause is often inappropriate driving for the conditions that exist.

In wet weather, stopping distances will be at least double those required for stopping on dry roads. Aquaplaning can be a frightening experience; this is where a wedge of water builds up between the front tyres and the road surface. If this happens, the safest solution is to remove pressure from the accelerator, allowing the vehicle to lose speed which will help the tyres regain their grip.

Ice and snow can increase stopping distanced by up to ten times so keep well back from the vehicle in front. Anticipate when you will need to be stopping and be alert to other road users. When the roads are icy, drive at a slow speed in as high a gear as possible; accelerate and brake very gently.

High-sided vehicles are most affected by windy weather, if you are driving a high-sided vehicle, be cautious of other road users and plan your journey to avoid areas that may be closed to high-sided vehicles such as bridges. If you are a driver and passing a high-sided vehicle in windy weather, do so with caution as they can blown into your path by sudden gusts of wind.

Driving in fog drastically reduces visibility so it is important to make your presence aware to other road users. Use dipped headlights if driving in light fog and use fog lights if driving in thick fog. Fog lights must only be used if visibility is less than 100 metres and must be switched off if visibility improves.

snow winter road

Advice for Pedestrians

Pedestrians must ensure that they are well prepared for winter and dress appropriately for the temperature. It’s important to ensure that the pavement outside your home is safe to walk on and clear of ice or snow. You should also wear shoes or boots with non-slip soles and consider wearing reflective or bright-coloured clothing so that other road users are able to see you when it’s dark or visibility is poor.

Hats or scarves that cover your ears can also distort or eliminate the muffled sounds of approaching vehicles, so it is important to take extra care when crossing the road or checking for traffic. Keep warm but make sure that you are fully aware of what’s going on around you.

Follow all traffic signs and signals and before you step off the kerb at crossings, make sure any oncoming vehicles have come to a complete stop. It is dangerous to try and run across the road as you may not be aware of dangers such as ice, pot holes or deep puddles that can cause injury. Keep in mind that vehicles can take up to ten times longer to stop on slippery surfaces, so don’t make any sudden movements and give motorists plenty of time.

Do not cross the road while distracted, for example, whilst using your phone. If walking home, particularly late at night, make sure someone knows when you are expected to arrive at your destination in case something happens which leaves you exposed to freezing temperatures longer than planned.

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