The first few weeks of 2021 have been challenging for those who are having to make essential journeys on Scotland’s roads.
Snow, ice and heavy rain have resulted in difficult conditions for motorists and public transport services.
And forecasters are expecting more obstacles heading up to Scotland, as Storm Christoph travels north from England.
The Met Office has issued two yellow weather warnings to hit parts of the north and south of the country over the coming days.
It could get particularly treacherous in the north east of the country, as high gusts and heavy snow fall could result in some blizzard conditions.
A number of flood alerts have already been issued across Scotland due to predictions of significant rain fall and melting snow.
Bill Plant Driving School has issued a series of tips for drivers to take into consideration before they tackle the adverse weather from Storm Christoph.
Here’s everything you need to know below.
Ensure your car is ready for the road and demist your car
First and foremost, you want to ensure that your lights are in good working order; this is to make sure that your vehicle is fully visible on the road to other road users. Alongside this, be sure to give your tyres and fluid levels the once over.
You also want to ensure you have emergency supplies in your car, should you break down or find yourself having to pull over to let the weather calm down. This should include water and snacks, to keep you going, as well as a first aid kit.
Before you even set off, ensure that all windows in your car are demisted. Do not set off when just enough has been demisted to see what’s directly in front of your face and hope that the windows will soon fully clear after setting off. You need to ensure all windows are demisted completely so that you are aware of every area around your car.
Ensure your windscreen wipers are on top form
Heavy levels of rain are far more common at this time and year and, with the days getting dark so early, it’s important that your windscreen wipers are as good as new as you’re going to need them to improve your visibility. Worn or broken windscreen wipers will not properly clear your windows of moisture and debris and can result in clouded vision and increased chances of an accident.
Slow down and double your stopping distances
Wet roads lead to wet brakes; the former leads to less tyre traction on the road and the latter leads to brakes that can be slower to react. As a rule of thumb, stopping distances need to be DOUBLED (x2) in the wet. For typical stopping distances if you’re travelling 30mph, it’s recommended that you give yourself an overall stopping distance of 75 feet (30 feet for thinking distance). This would increase to 120 feet should you be travelling at 40mph, 175 feet if travelling at 50 and 240 feet if travelling at 60mph.
Use your lights
It can be easy to forget to use your lights, especially with the days seeming shorter, but if your car doesn’t have automatic lights then be conscious of the level of natural light. It may seem light enough out there at 5pm but, if you have any inkling of doubt, it’s best to pop them on just to be safe. They will make you stand out to the traffic around you, as well as providing an extra line of sight to what is around you.
Hold on tight
Keep a firm grip on the wheel as strong winds can force your car in different directions, causing you to drift, often without you even realising. Keep two hands on the wheel at all times and be prepared to hold on tight when an unexpected gust comes your way.
This also means avoiding cruise control. If you were to cross standing water, cruise control can lead to your car speeding up, making a scary situation wherein your car may aquaplane, even worse.
Avoid standing water
Driving into a large body of standing water on the road will not only slow your vehicle down by itself, giving no warning to any vehicles behind, it can impair your vision by spraying the front window. Additionally, it could also cause you to aquaplane and lose control of your car or it could be hiding potholes and debris below it, which could very well cause damage to your car or a crash.
Take your time
You may well be in a rush or running late, but extreme weather conditions are no opportunity to rush down the road. Strong winds can affect your car’s braking and handling abilities and when the rain starts to pour you’re more at risk of hydroplaning; so take it steady. It’s better to arrive late than not get there at all.
But most importantly, stay safe!
Finally, and most importantly, it’s imperative to stay safe. Whether that means you need to slow right down to a speed that is comfortable, and of course safe for those around you, or to pull over somewhere that is safe to do so. If you are not comfortable driving in the rain, get public transport or lift share with someone who is - or stay put, if you can.