Taking care on the roads

TAYSIDE Police is taking part in a campaign aimed at making sure drivers in Angus are prepared for the worst that winter can throw at them.

The campaign begins today (Friday) and will end on Sunday. It will see police forces co-ordinate to promote the importance of road safety and making sure your vehicle is prepared for poor weather.

Although officers will be concentrating on educating drivers, they will also continue to enforce legislation regarding seatbelts, mobile ‘phone use and speeding.

The higher likelihood of adverse weather at this time of year makes it imperative that drivers are aware of safety messages and advice.

Ice and snow are the most commonly perceived dangers, but drivers often do not account for the impact on their journey of high winds, heavy rain or fog.

Tyre grip can be significantly reduced by the presence of heavy rain, standing pools of water, mud, leaves or other debris.

Glare caused by the sun sitting lower in the sky can be exacerbated by a reflective road surface, or a dirty windscreen if windscreen wipers are ineffective or washer fluid is low.

Ensuring that both you and your vehicle are ready for the road is an essential step towards keeping safe when travelling, no matter how short that journey might be.

Tayside Police recommends the following simple steps to all motorists to prepare themselves for the coming Winter.

Get a vehicle service; top up your cooling system with the right anti-freeze; keep windscreen washer bottles topped up and make sure the fluid will not freeze; ensure the battery is fully charged and replace if necessary; Keep front and rear lights clean, dirt can reduce effectiveness significantly; ensure tyres are legal, and have a good level of tread across the full width, ideally 3mm or more and keep them correctly inflated; check, and if necessary replace wiper blades; ensure windows and mirrors are clean and free of condensation, ice, frost or snow; and keep handy clean sunglasses or similar to tackle the low sun.

Drivers should also change their driving style to accommodate the weather: increase the gap between vehicles; drop your speed to allow more slowing down time; always drive with care; a lack of road noise may mean you are driving on ice; when fog reduces visibility to less than 100m use fog lights, but turn them off when conditions improve; the deepest water on a flooded road is usually near the kerb and test your breaks after passing through water.

Drivers should keep the following equipment in their vehicles: ice scraper and de-icer; chamois or microfibre cloth suitable for cleaning windows inside and out; extra windscreen washer fluid and water; a torch; a shovel if snow is expected; warm clothes and a blanket; boots; first aid kit; food and a warm drink in a flask, especially during cold weather.

Head of Roads Policing Chief Inspector Sandy Bowman said: “Last winter thankfully we didn’t have as much snow in our area compared with the previous years, however we did see prolonged periods of heavy rain and flooding. When this is combined with low temperatures this obviously poses a potentially greater hazard.

“If you have to scrape your windows before driving, this should indicate that some stretches of road will in all probability be icy, indeed there may be some areas of ‘black ice’.

“Visibility is crucial and this applies to all road users. Cyclists should ensure that they wear a helmet and preferably fluorescent, high visibility and reflective type clothing.

“Pedestrians should also wear light coloured clothing particularly in areas where there is little street lighting. Remember you may see the car, but can they see you?”

Information on weather conditions in your area can be found at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk.

Up-to-date travel information is available at http://trafficscotland.org.