Winter driving

Winter driving

Before the really bad weather starts, let’s just run through things to remember

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Edward, on the lookout for the Yetis

Check the forecast. Do you really need to drive to X when you know the really bad weather is closing in? If you really must, then at least be prepared.

Lights. Use them. Whenever you’re driving you are legally required to have your headlights on – dipped during the day and in the normal situations at night, of course. Use your fog lights when you should, and please do NOT turn them on when you should not – dazzling other drivers or, even worse, making the guess whether you’re braking or not is just bloody ignorant! And another thing – WASH your lights … you’ll get all sorts of cack on them, so wash them … see and be seen.

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Screen wash and wipers. Keep your washer bottles topped up with water with de-icer added, and carry a couple of cans of de-icer in the car. Park your wipers off the screen when you park up – either lift them into the air or put some paper or something under them to stop them freezing into the glass.

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Park your wipers off the screen

Check your tyres. They ought to be WINTER tyres, of course. Winter tyres make a significant improvement to how your car will grip and brake when temps drop to 7 degrees and below. Check the pressure.

Carry chains. The police will stop you if you’re driving with them on when you should not … and they’ll stop you and tell you to put them on when you need them, too! We have seen hills in PL which we would not like to tackle in snow, even with 4wd and chains, so while you may never find yourself in the extreme situation, you may be glad you bought some chain (and found out how to fit them!).

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This is snow before Xmas last year – after Xmas we had two feet until April!

Carry some supplies. Imagine you get caught in a storm or a very long delay on the motorway. What would you wish you’d packed before you set out – water, flask of coffee, pop, biscuits, torch, blanket, sandwiches? Pack them! Did you put a folding shovel and a pair of sacks in the boot? Good!

Drive defensively. We know Poles seem to drive in the belief that God is their co-pilot, but you don’t have to. Watch other drivers and try to anticipate what daft things they might do. Keep to the speed limits (especially in between the skyline signs in towns and villages) and adjust your speed downwards as conditions demand.

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Oops – but even a 4wd on summer tyres or poorly driven can end up in the ditch!

Change your battery? If it’s nearing the end of its working life – normally about five years – change it. You don’t want to find it’s gone flat over a freezy cold night, do you? Or, come to that, over a freezy cold couple of hours in a car park, many miles from home. Also, get some jump cables, just in case you or someone else need them.

Anti-freeze. We mentioned putting de-icer into your washer bottles, but remember to check and top-up your anti-freeze too.

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The “jetstream” is actually the snow frozen to the telephone wire

Footwear. Yes, footwear. Boots are fine for walking through the snow and ice, but terrible to drive in. Keep some favourite driving shoes in the car and change out of your boots while the car warms up. At your destination – or if you have to get out en route – you can put your (now nice and warm) boots back on.

Other things to carry – reflective jackets, ice scraper, first aid kit, sunglasses and maybe ski glasses (the yellow ones), road atlas (in case your sat nav packs in or you need to figure out a diversion, demisting pad (chamois) to clean and dry cndensation off the inside of your windows.

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Grey car, snow still in place and no lights … see and be seen?

Some driving pointers:

–       Accelerate gently, use low revs and change up as quickly as possible. You may find it best to move off in second gear.

–       Leave a longer gap between you and the car in front – it can take up to ten times more road to stop!

–       Steer into a skid. As an example, if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes.

–       On ungritted roads be aware that it may be icier in the tracks of the car in front – think about driving on the fresh snow instead.

–       Drive smoothly. Operate the brakes, steering, accelerator, even change the gears more smoothly

–       Allow more time for your journey.

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The 1904loghouse is under the tree – TeaPot on walkies

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