Get ready for winter

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As the autumn season continues, Tayside Police, along with all other Scottish Police Forces, will take part in a national campaign intended to promote the importance of road safety and ensure that vehicles are suitably prepared for the wetter and colder months that lie ahead.

The campaign, which coincides with the end of British Summertime on Sunday October, 28, began at 7am on Friday, October, 26 and will end 72 hours later.

Officers will focus on educating drivers on matters of road safety but will continue to enforce legislation. Whilst the campaign will include checking that vehicles are road worthy, offences such as speeding, failure to wear seat belts or suitable restraints and using a mobile phone whilst driving will continue to be targeted.

During this time of year, when there is a greater likelihood of adverse weather conditions, and when road conditions can deteriorate rapidly, it is especially important that safety messages are listened to and taken account of by all road users.

Whilst the impact of heavy snow or icy roads during the winter months should be well known and appreciated, there are a number of other weather conditions which road users must take into account before considering, commencing and during a journey.

For example, high winds, heavy rain and fog all affect journey times and must be considered prior to setting out. The grip of a vehicle’s tyres may be significantly reduced if there is heavy rain, standing pools of water, mud, leaves or debris on the road surface.

Similarly, the glare caused by the sun sitting lower in the sky can be particularly difficult to deal with, especially if this is combined with a reflection from the road surface and a dirty windscreen caused by ineffective windscreen wipers or lack of washer fluid.

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 encourage all motorists to consider the following simple steps to prepare for the various challenges of driving in the forthcoming months:

Get your vehicle serviced.

Ensure the cooling system in your vehicle is topped up with the correct type of anti-freeze.

Regularly top up windscreen washer bottles with a suitable windscreen wash fluid that will not freeze.

Make sure the battery is fully charged and replaced if necessary.

Keep all of your lights clean. Spray from the roadway and other vehicles significantly reduces the effectiveness of your lights, remember to pay attention to your rear lights as well.

Ensure that your tyres are at the very minimum all legal and have a good level of tread across the full width, with ideally 3mm or more as this will enhance their performance. Keep tyres correctly inflated.

Check and replace wiper blades if necessary.

Ensure that all windows and mirrors are kept clean and free of frost, condensation, ice and snow. Ideally all windows should be fully de-misted/de-iced before you attempt to move off. Adopt a routine of washing all windows regularly to maintain a clear view.

The low sun can seriously hamper vision and potentially dazzle you. Think ahead of this on bright days, be prepared and make sure that you have clean sunglasses to hand.

Drivers should also give consideration to changing the way they drive in poor conditions and it is worth bearing in mind the following:

Increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front.

On wet or slippery roads it can take up to 10 times longer to stop.

Drop your speed and allow more time to slow down and stop by decelerating that bit earlier rather than rely on braking alone.

Drive with care even if you think the roads have been treated.

If you are unable to hear any road noise then this could be a sign you are driving on ice.

Use dipped headlights so that you can see and be seen.

If it is very foggy, that is with less than 100 metres visibility, then use fog lights but switch them off whenever conditions improve otherwise they will cause undue dazzle, which is an offence.

Be careful on flooded roads, the deepest water is usually nearest the kerb.

Carefully test your brakes after passing through the water.

In addition, the following pieces of equipment should be considered as essential during the winter months:

Ice Scraper and de-icer.

A chamois or microfibre cloth are ideal for cleaning windows both internally and externally.

Additional supplies of windscreen washer fluid and water for the washers to top up during a journey.

Torch.

A shovel (If it is likely to snow on your journey).

Warm clothes and a blanket.

A pair of boots.

First aid kit.

Food and a warm drink in a flask during particularly cold weather.

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