RAC patrols look set to help over 9,000 motorists today as snow and ice make driving conditions hazardous:
RAC spokesman Pete Williams said: “We are experiencing higher breakdown volumes than expected with callouts up by 15-20% compared with seasonal norms. We look on track to attend over 9,000 members today.
"It’s busiest in the Midlands, Eastern England, the North, South West, Kent and South London with snow and ice making driving hazardous for many.
“Our patrols are rescuing members who have run into difficulty in the treacherous driving conditions resulting in some minor accidents.
"We are also seeing a significant increase in vehicles with pothole related damage – so punctures, wheel damage, steering and suspension problems. The toxic combination of high water levels, ice and snow is causing many road surfaces to crumble causing potholes to open up.
“Our patrols attended a dozen vehicles alone on the M25 where a large pothole opened up yesterday causing punctures, damage wheel damage and big delays for many motorists.
“Flat and exhausted batteries are another major cause of breakdown or simply non-start for many as the icy and damp conditions play havoc with vehicle's electrics. Many drivers who haven’t used their car for several days over Christmas are finding that it doesn’t have the power to turn over the engine and they are left stuck on the drive or in the street. These batteries can be jump-started but many will be simply too tired or old with limited reserve capacity and simply cannot hold charge for long.
“With more snow forecast and plummeting temperatures we expect the hazardous driving conditions will get worse tonight with a high risk of black ice.
"Those planning on a return journey from their Christmas break should check local weather reports, leave extra time for their journey and pack a ‘winter travel’ kit in case they breakdown with additional warm clothing, snacks and hot drinks, a fully charged mobile and a shovel.
“If possible use main roads where they have been well gritted and if you are travelling on the motorway in areas with heavy snow bear in mind that the hard shoulder is unlikely to be gritted so avoid driving on to it unless essential.
“Five minutes spent checking these winter driving tips and advice rac.co.uk/winterdriving would be time well spent and may save the stress and inconvenience of a breakdown or worse still and an accident.”
Get ready for winter:
Big issues – minor accidents arising from skidding on ice and snow, electrical faults and battery failure as the icy conditions play havoc with electrics and cause batteries to die. Punctures and problems arising from accidents – steering suspension, wheels etc. Also finding members in some locations are bogged down in snow.
Driving - Snow, ice and wind will make driving hazardous so are advising drivers to adjust their driving accordingly – slow down, leave plenty of space between you and the car in front – three or four times the normal gap or more if you are on ice or snow.
Plan more time for your journey – and ensure you clear your windscreen and all windows before starting to drive. Particularly tomorrow don’t think you will be able to get to work in the normal time – your journey is likely to take a lot longer. Ideally stick to main roads and be wary that you may encounter ice – particularly on sheltered country, quiet roads. Listen to local radio weather and traffic reports.
Preparations – we would advise drivers to spend ten minutes today doing some DIY checks to help avoid a breakdown – we use the phrase check the winter FORCES: (you don’t have to use this – but it may help)
F – check you have plenty of fuel for your journey – or fill up today
O – check your oil level and top-up if required
R – rubber is very important – check your tyre pressures and that you have plenty of tread – ideally 2 or 3mm. Your tyres give you grip and control on the road and a good tread depth is essential in icy and snowy conditions. Also check your wipers are doing an effective job clearing your windscreen – if not replace
C – coolant – ensure you have the correct level and top up with a quality anti-freeze if required
E – electrics – check all of your lights are working properly
S – top up your screen wash and use a quality additive which is effective down to -15 or even -20 degrees centigrade
Carry a winter kit - If you have a long journey – ensure you pack a winter kit containing the following just in case you are unlucky enough to get stuck or stranded:
- Spare warm clothes
- Extra waterproofs
- High-vis jacket or vest
- First aid kit
- Torch and batteries
- A fully charge mobile phone
- Flask with a warm drink and some food
Drivers would be wise to check the rac.co.uk website for winter driving tips – advice on preparing your car and driving in extreme winter conditions - https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/winter-driving/