On parade this morning one of my colleagues quite confidently predicted “It’s going to start snowing at three o’clock this afternoon”. I’d heard that it might snow but didn’t think much of it, but then at three, nearly bang on the dot, the skies took their cue from the cold weather and dumped snow everywhere.
Within about five minutes we’d received our first ‘car verses car RTC’ call, followed shortly after by the first of what likely will be many complaints about inconsiderate snowball throwing.
When it comes to driving though, how is it best to cope with snow and the ice?
The first tip – and the best I can give – is that the chances of you colliding or getting into trouble are near enough zero if you’re sitting in your house in front of a log fire, swigging brandy and singing White Christmas to Marjorie Reynolds. Unless you absolutely have to, don’t drive at all.
Should it be the case that you have no choice but to drive, check your car is in a decent condition to cope with the snow. Do you have enough fuel in the tank, enough charge in the battery and enough tread on the tires to complete your journey safely? Furthermore do you have warm clothing should your car get stuck and its magical ability to double up as a incredibly expensive coat suddenly vanish?
When out on the road, you obviously need to be thinking about doubling or even tripling your stopping distances and aiming to drive at a sensible speed so that if needs be, you can bring your car to a halt before a wall does the job for you. Higher gears tend to work better in manual cars for avoiding wheel spin so look to start off in second rather than first.
In snowy conditions using fog lights shouldn’t be an issue so stick them on and make sure other motorists can see you. Try to stick to the roads that will have been gritted (the arterial ones) and if you see another driver stuck, consider stopping to lend them a hand where safe to do so.
Following these tips should help you avoid too many problems over the next few days but as I’ve stressed, the first recommendation that you don’t drive at all is the most important – if you don’t need to make a journey then please, please, please stay at home in the warm.
As a final note, what do we do when the snow if a-falling?
Obviously there are contingency plans for severe weather which have already began to swing into action – our fleet of 4×4 vehicles will be on standby, officers issued with cold weather gear and non-essential personnel cancelled.
As the weather affects our cars as much as it does anyone else, we have to start prioritising calls and for safety’s sake will respond to only the most immediate ones. In this we encourage that only urgent calls are made to us by the public to help us stay on top of the workload and ensure we reserve the capability to deal with calls as they’re received.
Beyond this we’ll likely catch up on what we can at the station and casually ask each officer who walks into the station looking like Jack Frost, “Still snowing outside is it?”. Ho Ho!