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Driving in bad weather: Be prepared

Check your vehicle is ready for winter and always carry an emergency kit. Just gather together the items below and pack in the car at the start of the winter season. You never know when you might need them.

Breaking down is never a pleasant experience - especially on the motorway. It's even worse if you have to wait for recovery, outside your vehicle, in cold and wintry weather. You'll also want your vehicle to be in the best condition to handle difficult driving conditions in severe weather. So it's a good idea to get your vehicle serviced before the winter to reduce the chance of problems.

Pre-journey checks

Use this following handy reminder for pre-journey checks. It's called the POWDERY checklist:

  • PETROL (or diesel). Have you got enough? Do you know where to fill up?
  • OIL - check levels once a month
  • WATER - check radiator and screenwash once a month
  • DAMAGE - check wipers, lights etc for signs of wear and tear or damage
  • ELECTRICS - check lights, indicators and controls are working properly
  • RUBBER - are your tyres well inflated, legal, with good tread and free from damage?
  • YOURSELF - are you fit to drive? Have you slept well? Are you taking any medication(s) that could make it unsafe for you to drive?

If you are planning to travel with pets, ensure that animals are safe and secure, and will not be a distraction to people travelling in your vehicle - seek appropriate advice before you travel.

Carry an emergency kit

Gather together the following items and pack in your vehicle at the start of the winter season, you never know when you might need them!

  • Ice scraper and de-icer
  • Torch and spare batteries - or a wind-up torch
  • Warm clothes and blankets - for you and all passengers
  • Boots
  • First aid kit
  • Jump leads
  • A shovel
  • Road atlas
  • Sunglasses (the low winter sun and glare off snow can be dazzling)

Before each journey in severe weather:

  • Clean any snow and ice from all windows, lights and number plates. Make sure you can see clearly and be seen.
  • Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged - but don't use while driving.
  • Take some food and a warm drink in a flask in case you get stuck. Don't forget to take any personal medication too!

For further information visit Highways Agency: Winter

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