Watch out for wintery roads says Westover Group

With the weather front nicknamed the ‘beast from the east’ and Storm Emma predicted to bring travel chaos, Westover Group is warning local motorists to be prepared for more challenging driving conditions than usual.

“Even if we escape the bulk of the snow here in Dorset and Wiltshire, the freezing conditions that have swept in from Siberia and look set to hang around until the weekend present a whole array of challenges that motorists simply don’t face most of the year, so it’s wise to be prepared,” says Mark Whittam from the Westover Group.

“Whatever type of vehicle you drive, you may face difficulties – especially if you’re travelling further afield. None of the checks we recommend are costly or time consuming but drivers who are organised could save themselves the hassle and cost of a breakdown.

"A bit of forethought and common sense could also make the difference between staying safe and getting into a difficult or dangerous situation.”

Westover has a few top tips to help you stay safe this winter.

  • Keep your vehicle’s anti-freeze levels topped up (if you don’t your car may not start in cold conditions). You’ll also need to check that your battery, electrics, oil levels and brakes are in good condition as they all have to work harder in the cold (temperatures are predicted to drop to -6 degrees in Bournemouth).
  • Check your tyres have a good tread depth and are correctly inflated. Maintaining a decent grip on a slippery surface is tricky anyway but throw in bald (or heading that way) tyres and your car will struggle to keep you on track. If you get stuck in snow or ice, put your car mats under the tyres to help you get back on your way.
  • Make sure you can see where you are going! Sounds obvious, but many people simply forget to check their lights are functioning, the screen wash is topped up and the wipers are working until it’s too late. Your windscreen should be completely clear before you start driving (use antifreeze not hot water, which can crack the glass). If you’re relying on the car’s heater to defrost the windscreen, resist the temptation to leave before it’s worked its magic.
  • Remove any snow from your car before you depart. Drive off with a snow drift on your car’s roof and you may find it shifts to the windscreen and obscures your vision when you brake.
  • Allow a greater distance between you and the car in front when conditions are challenging and avoid sudden changes in speed and direction. On ice and snow, you need to allow around ten times the braking distance you would on dry tarmac, so don’t be tempted to tailgate the driver in front. If your brakes do lock, take your foot off the pedal and then reapply.
  • Maintain your momentum up hill and keeping the speed low on descents. Take on a hill too timidly and you may lose traction and start skidding backwards. Come too quickly down a slope and you could lose control. Wait until you can see that your route is clear before progressing, where possible.
  • Keep a warning triangle, torch, de-icer and snacks in your car, just in case. It’s common sense but you’ll be pleased if you do get stuck.
  • Remember your in-car mobile phone charger, just in case. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting stuck and then finding your phone has no power left.

If you want to be sure your car is ready to tackle any weather conditions, Westover can carry out a complimentary visual safety check at any one of its showrooms.