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Useful safety advice for driving in winter weather
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Winter motoring checklist

Check local weather and traffic reports

The advice given by motoring organisations in bad winter weather is often
don't drive or take unnecessary journeys, unless you have to.

Keep tuned to local radio for the weather and travel updates. If it’s really bad where you are then consider changing your plans and travel later or use alternative means.

For up-to-date UK national and regional weather forecasts and severe weather warnings, you can also check the Met Office website.

You can get live traffic and travel information from England’s Highways Agency, Scotland’s Transport Scotland, Wales’ Traffic Wales and Northern Ireland’s TrafficwatchNI.

If you do need to travel, here is some advice on what you need to do in winter weather to reduce the risk of a breakdown and make sure that you are equipped to deal with the conditions.

Check your car or minibus before setting out

Antifreeze – check coolant level regularly and, if required, top-up with a mixture of the correct type of antifreeze. Your garage should check concentration to ensure adequate cold temperature protection.

Battery – the most common cause of winter breakdowns. A battery more than five years old may struggle in the cold - get it checked and replaced if necessary to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned failure.

Fuel – keep at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected delay.

Lights – check and clean all lights regularly to make sure you can see and be seen clearly. Carry spare bulbs.

Tyres – should have at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring. Consider winter tyres for improved safety. Check pressures at least every fortnight.

Windscreen – reduce dazzle from the low sun by keeping the screen clean inside and out. Now is a good time to renew worn wiper blades. Screen wash – use a 50% mix of a good quality screen wash to reduce the chance of freezing in frosty weather.

Locks and door seals – stop doors freezing shut with a thin coat of polish or Vaseline on rubber door seals. A squirt of water dispersant (such as WD-40) in locks will help stop them freezing.

Things to take, in case of emergency

You should make up a winter emergency kit to keep in the boot – hopefully you won’t need it.

Even for short journeys, you should take warm clothing, de-icer and a fully-charged mobile.

The AA advises taking the following items:

Year-round essentials

  • Fully-charged mobile phone and in-car charger
  • Sunglasses – to deal with glare from the sun or snow
  • Personal medication
  • Warning triangle
  • Spare bulbs
  • First aid kit
  • Road atlas – in case of diversions
  • Sat-nav or printed route for unfamiliar journeys
  • Breakdown membership card

In addition in winter weather he AA advises:

Winter emergency kit

  • Blanket, rug or sleeping bag
  • Shovel
  • Bits of carpet or thick cardboard to place under driven wheels to help regain traction on ice or snow
  • Salt, sand or cat litter – to help clear snow and ice
  • Reflective jacket(s)
  • Ice scraper and de-icer
  • Torch and batteries
  • Tow rope
  • Snow chains (if you live in a remote or rural area)
  • Battery jump leads
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks – chocolate or cereal bars
  • Extra screen wash

For other information

The AA provides vital information for winter driving. Use the links below for more details:

Winter motoring checklist

Winter driving

Driving in strong winds

For motor insurance, including breakdown cover for your Scout minibus,
please visit our minibus insurance page, or contact Unity (Scout Insurance Services) on 0345 040 7703.



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