Heavy snow and icy roads
Winter weather can be harsh, be prepared and make sure you don't get caught out if severe weather strikes.
Winter driving advice
With the days being shorter during the winter months and daylight hours often not particularly bright, drivers need to take extra care to ensure that their lights, including fog lights, are working properly and that they are used at the appropriate times. Side lights are often appropriate during the day time as visibility can be poor due to light and weather conditions.
In the winter, it’s even more important to check that your car is in a good condition and is also advisable to consider doing a few extra checks over these colder months. Completing the following checks will reduce your chances of breaking down on the road and keep you safer:
- Check and replace the anti-freeze in the radiator
- Make sure your lights are clean and check the bulbs
- Ensure your windscreen is clean - It should also be free from ice and snow and not misted up. Allow your windscreen time to de-mist before driving off to give you a clear view of the road. Do not be tempted to wipe a 'porthole' for you to see out of as this will not provide you with a clear view of the road ahead.
- Replace the battery if it's not reliable
- Check windscreen wipers are working effectively
- Check that the washer bottles are full and contain a suitable additive to prevent freezing.
Check your tyres
In the winter months it is essential that your tyres are well maintained. Cold temperatures, damp roads, snow and ice all reduce a tyre's ability to grip the road properly, leading to longer stopping distances and a higher risk of an accident.
- Ensure your tyres are correctly inflated and replace them if the tread has reached the legal minimum. For further information please visit Tyre Safe.
Putting aside ten minutes to plan your journey before you set off could make all the difference. Check your planned route at on the Highways Agency's website where you can find up-to-date traffic information.
- Gritting helps to prevent ice forming and melt any ice and snow which is already there. However, it does not automatically make roads ice-free. Find out more about gritting.
- Wherever possible, use main routes which are likely to have been treated.
- Allow extra time for your journey in wintry conditions.
- Reduce your speed and allow more time to stop than usual. Cut your speed, don't brake suddenly, drop down a gear to let your engine help with the braking and, above all, anticipate possible problems ahead.
If you are planning a long winter journey, you should pack your emergency kit in your car. This simple array of everyday household items could be your salvation if you get caught out by adverse weather conditions on the journey. Gather a few items together and keep them in your car - just in case.
In particularly severe weather consider whether your journey is necessary or whether it can be delayed. If you have to go out, dress warmly and be prepared in case you get stuck or delayed.
- In poor visibility, use dipped headlights and only use fog lights when visibility is less than 100 metres. Remember to switch your fog lights off when visibility improves. In rain, fog lights are a hazard for the motorists behind you, so do not use them.
Clearing Snow and Ice
Wirral Council encourages people to clear ice and snow from their own pathways outside their homes and businesses if they are not already cleared. If you clear snow and ice yourself, be careful - don’t make the pathways more dangerous by causing them to refreeze. But don’t be put off clearing paths because you’re afraid someone will get injured.
Remember, people walking on snow and ice have responsibility to be careful themselves.
The government provides advice, on clearing snow and ice from your own pathway safely and effectively on the Gov.uk website.
In times of difficulty we ask everyone to pull together with the Council and other agencies to help people who are vulnerable in the cold weather. This includes checking on an elderly or disabled neighbour and if appropriate, breaking up any compact ice and snow which may make an area hazardous.