Police urge motorists to get ready for winter

Police say driving in adverse, wintery weather presents additional challenges
Police say driving in adverse, wintery weather presents additional challenges

Officers in the North East are encouraging the public to think ahead for driving this coming winter as part of the nations ‘Ready Scotland’ initiative.

Today (Thursday, November 8) marks the start of the ‘Ready for Winter’ campaign which looks to ensure that the public are prepared for potentially severe weather over the winter period.

North East Road Policing Inspector Neil Morrison said: “With winter almost upon us it is important that everyone recognises the need to prepare for the potential severe weather that we often experience in the North East.

“Planning ahead and taking some relatively simple and straightforward action will go a long way to ensure a safer winter period for all.

“One of the first things I would encourage all road users to think about is the road worthiness of their vehicle. Check your tyres regularly to ensure they have a sufficient tread depth and that they are inflated to the recommended pressures. The legal tread depth limit is 1.6 mm although a greater depth is obviously more beneficial.

“While not a legal requirement, fitting all-season or winter tyres during the winter months will greatly aid your traction on snow covered and wet roads and increase your stopping distances. However, it must be stated that these benefits are not simply replicated on ice covered roads. Therefore, it is important that you plan each drive, reduce your speed and give yourself more time to react.

“Check the fluid levels in your vehicle; engine oil, coolant, including anti-freeze, and windscreen screen wash. Where necessary, top up to the correct levels using the correct grade of oil. Make sure you dilute screenwash to the correct concentration to prevent it freezing in the bottle or on the windscreen. Clean the inside of your windows, removing dirt and dust, as this will increase your visibility in low sun conditions. Windscreen wipers should be replaced if worn and all lights should be maintained in good working order, clean and free from damage.

“Driving in adverse, wintery weather presents additional challenges. Always switch on your dipped beam headlamps in rain, snow, or misty conditions; don't just rely on your vehicles 'day time running LEDs', as in most cases this feature does not illuminate the rear position lamps. You should always drive within the posted speed limit AND at a speed that is appropriate to the situation and conditions at the time. In adverse weather reduce your speed, increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front and plan for the unexpected. Avoid sudden acceleration and braking in wet or slippery conditions and drive in a higher gear to minimise wheel spinning in snow and slush.

“Plan ahead - check the weather forecast - and leave additional time for your journey. Before setting off, make sure you fully clear all windows of snow and frost/ice to provide a clear view of the road all around you. Clear deposits of lying snow from the roof and bonnet of the vehicle to prevent this blowing from your vehicle as you drive or blocking your view when you brake and stop at the first hazard.

“Don't be tempted to leave your engine running and vehicle unattended when defrosting it. Apart from this being an offence, it increases the risk of your vehicle being stolen by an opportunist thief and will make for a difficult and embarrassing conversation with your unsympathetic insurance company.

“Packing your car with essential items in case of emergencies, traffic issues or if you experience a breakdown is also something to consider. A torch (with spare batteries), extra screenwash, a blanket or sleeping bag, a shovel and some snacks and drinks are recommended. A flask of a hot drink and extra clothes is also advisable. Also ensure you have sufficient fuel for your journey as unplanned delays often happen.”

Inspector Morrison added: “I would urge vulnerable road users such as cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians, to take extra care during the darker morning and nights. Consider wearing brighter coloured clothing such as high visibility or reflective clothing where possible to maximise your presence to others. If cycling, wear high visibility, reflective clothing and fit lights to the front and rear of your bike. The legal requirement is one white light to the front and one red light to the rear however, there is no restriction on the number of lights that can/should be fitted and I would suggest more than one is preferable - just make sure the lights are positioned and adjusted correctly to prevent unnecessary dazzle to others.

“The winter months can be a very busy time for the Community Policing and Road Policing Teams due to the potential for road collisions, road closures and associated weather related issues. If a road is signed as 'closed', there is a good reason for this, therefore please adhere to the direction and do not be tempted to drive through. You may find yourself getting stranded which impacts on your safety and our ability to assist overall.

“Throughout the winter months, Police Scotland will continue to work routinely with our partner agencies and national and local authorities and will endeavour to ensure that suitable messaging is communicated to advise of local road conditions and any closures.
“The winter months bring a range of challenges for all however, planning ahead, driving safely and taking some sensible and simple precautions will help to keep everyone safe on the north east’s roads.”