I’m dreaming of a white....January?
While some parts of the UK were fortunate enough to have a white Christmas, the people of Wales largely missed out. However, with colder temperatures now affecting the whole country and snow beginning to fall in some areas, road users should ensure that they are prepared.
Before starting any journey, it’s worth keeping up to date with the weather forecast and travel reports. Public transport can be severely affected during the winter, so it is better to find out if there are delays or cancellations before leaving home.
Most people have little experience walking, cycling or driving in snow or ice so take extra care - don’t just continue as normal. If you need to walk in the snow or ice, try to plan a safe route to ideally avoid hills, steps and areas that have not been gritted. Wear sturdy footwear, with a good grip - you can always change into other footwear when you have reached your destination.
Whenever your vehicle is covered in ice or snow, make sure you clear the windows, lights and roof thoroughly before moving off. Remove as much snow as possible to ensure your visibility is not compromised if snow slips forward onto your vehicle’s windscreen.
Driving conditions can deteriorate within a few miles, so if you encounter snow or ice while driving, it is essential that you reduce your speed. Your stopping distance is significantly increased, and the risk of skidding is much greater.
Try to avoid accelerating, braking and steering harshly - being gentle with the controls is really important when the roads are slippery. Most modern vehicles are quite powerful, particularly electric vehicles, so switching to eco or efficiency mode can reduce the sensitivity of the accelerator pedal and could make it easier to drive smoothly.
Remember to increase the gap between you and any vehicles in front. You may need up to ten times the normal distance for braking. If visibility is reduced, use dipped headlights - exactly as you would if it was raining.
The temperature displayed in a vehicle is just the air temperature - when it is cold, the temperature of the road surface is often even lower.
Some people can get complacent on roads, pavements and cycle routes when they have been gritted but ice can still be present even on surfaces that have been treated. Also be aware of isolated patches of frost or ice in shaded areas, such as under trees, or on exposed bridges, that can remain even when most of the rest has thawed.
Cycling in icy weather can be hazardous so many people choose to walk instead. If you are cycling, consider reducing the height of your saddle slightly so that your centre of gravity is lower - this may also help you get your feet on the ground quicker if you start to slip or lose balance. If you can plan a route that makes use of surfaces that have been gritted this could be favourable, even if it takes a little longer than your usual route.
If your journey is necessary, however you choose to travel, please take your time and ensure you arrive at your destination safely.