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Driving in extreme weather conditions

Driving in different weather condition requires skills. You need to be aware how different weather conditions affect your vehicle, road etc Make sure you possess the skills and necessary knowledge before venturing out! Driving in extreme weather conditions tests your patience, skills, passion to the fullest. The information below will help you understand the challenges related to driving in extreme weather conditions and how to successfully overcome them.

As a basic thumb rule, you should be aware of weather conditions before moving out. Make sure to listen to the weather updates and check out the news for traffic updates. Different weather requires different preparation. What suits best for rainy condition might not be such a best option for fog and vice-versa. Similarly something which is desirable for snowfall on the road may not be useful in windy conditions. It is for this reason that you need to learn, understand and train yourself on how to drive in extreme weather conditions.

Prepare your vehicle :

It's a good idea to have your vehicle fully serviced before rainy or winter starts and have the anti-freeze tested. If you can't have it serviced, then do your own checks. In particular, check:
  • Make sure the battery is in good condition
  • Check your tyres conditions, lights and indicators. Make sure they are in good conditions.
  • Keep your windscreen clean and make sure to check the fluid levels.
  • Brakes are functioning well.
  • Always keep the emergency kit in your car.
Rain :

During rainy season heavy rainfall reduces your skill to observe and greatly increases the distance required to slow down and stop. Number of accidents are caused due to not braking in time when the roads are slippery and wet it is therefore essential that you maintain adequate distance between you and the vehicle in front. Use windscreen wipers, washers and dipped headlights; drive smoothly and plan your moves in plenty of time Flooded roads :
  • Avoid the deepest water - which is usually near the kerb.
  • Don't attempt to cross if the water seems too deep.
  • If you are not sure of the water's depth, look for an alternative route.
  • If you decide to risk it, drive slowly in first gear but keep the engine speed high by slipping the clutch - this will stop you from stalling.
  • Be aware of the bow wave from approaching vehicles - operate an informal 'give way' with approaching vehicles.
  • Remember to test your brakes when you are through the flood.

Driving in the fog is most dangerous weather condition and reduces the visibility. Many accidents took place because of the reduce visibility.
  • People must switch on the headlight when visibility is seriously reduced and generally you cannot see for more than 100 meters (328 feet).
  • You should always use the front or back fog lights when the visibility reduces while driving on the foggy weather conditions.
  • If the visibility is improved then you can switch off the fog light.
  • Check your car before you set off.
  • Make sure everything is in good working order, especially the lighting systems.
  • Use the demister and windscreen wipers.
  • Always switch of distracting noise and open the window slightly to make sure that you could listen to other traffic details at turning point and junctions.
  • Never park your vehicle on the road in fog and leave without warning lights. If you are stuck in the fog make sure that you inform the police to get your vehicle out of the road and solved the problem as soon as possible.
  • Be careful of speeding up immediately visibility improves to some extent.
Winter :

During winter season you require most care and preparation while driving. Driving could be safe and easy if you drive carefully and maintain all the requirements you need while driving.
In the most severe weather conditions, you should only drive if you really need to. Otherwise it may be better to delay your journey until the weather improves. Driving conditions are very challenging though the roads are treated in winters because ice are easily formed on the hilly or exposed roads, Roads that pass under or over the bridge, roads shaded by trees or buildings.
Make sure what to do:
  • You should keep your window screen clean and free from ice and snow.
  • You should always check your grip on the road surface when there is snow.
  • You should make sure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and readable.
  • You should reduce your speed because the chances of skidding are much greater.
  • Maneuver gently using a high gear and avoid harsh braking, sharp steering and acceleration
  • Always reduces your speed smoothly in the slippery surface, before bends and corner.
  • Keep your vehicle well-ventilated. The car heater turned up full can quickly make you snoozing.
  • Visibility will probably be reduced, so use dipped headlights.
  • Take extra care around pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders.
Snow drift:

  • Don't leave your vehicle
  • Call your breakdown service or the emergency services and let help come to you.
  • Don't run the engine to keep warm
This will ensure that half of your challenge is taken care of. Your life and life of the people in and around is of paramount importance and hence you should have extra careful approach when you are driving through ice and snow, or driving in fog or driving in rains and floods or in windy conditions.

Please remember -
In any of the conditions mentioned above you should reduce your vehicle speed and increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front. You should always try to avoid acceleration, speeding, harsh braking or steering movements. Check for the local weather forecast for warnings of icy or snowy weather. Do not drive in such conditions unless and until your journey is essential and unavoidable. You must ensure that the number plates are clearly visible, you must not use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced.
Last but not the least ensure that your mobile is fully charged in case of emergencies and you are carrying warm and waterproof clothing with you. Also make sure that someone knows your route as it always better to be safe than to be sorry.
Crown copyright material has been reproduced by permission of the Driving Standards Agency which does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the reproduction.
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