Beating Awful Driving Conditions

You’re driving along in awful conditions, it’s dark and snowing and suddenly your lights or wipers have gone… What next?

Well, ease gently into the side of the road and try to stop in a position where you are not at risk from passing traffic.

If you have to get out of the car ensure that you are dressed warmly first and you are visible with light coloured clothing or some form of reflecting clothing, a hi-visibility vest can be bought for just a few quid.

The problem is obviously an electrical one and is most likely a blown fuse, so check the handbook for the fuse box location [ usually inside the car in the driver or passenger footwells or the lower edge of the dashboard ], locate the relevant fuse and if it has blown replace with the spare which you have with you… haven’t you ??

If not take a similarly rated fuse from elsewhere in the fuse box, ideally from a non-essential piece of equipment – the stereo for example – and use that.

Perhaps the car has ground to a halt in the outside lane of a dual carriageway or motorway, hit the 4 way hazard warning flashers immediately as you are now at great risk.

You are faced with the option of moving the car or deserting it immediately. If you do desert, do not cross to the hard shoulder unless there is no other traffic in sight. You are safer between the central barriers until help arrives.

Should you elect to stay in the car, attempt to drive it on the starter. Keep the flashers going, select second gear and keep the ignition key turned as far as it will go, there should be enough power in the battery to move it across the lanes to the hard shoulder. If this does not work in a couple of minutes, abandon the car safely.

The snow is already thick and coming down fast, you have to climb a steep slope, keep in second gear and try to keep moving steadily, with no jerky steering or acceleration, don’t rush at it and you should get to your destination while others flounder with spinning wheels.

If you do get stuck in the snow the key to getting out is to drive very gently so as to avoid losing traction. You can improve the tyres grip by putting something under the wheels, old carpet or sacking is ideal. If the snow is deep try to dig out a passage for the wheels to follow towards a clearer area. Lay old carpet or sacking in front of the driving wheels to maximise grip. If you have some string, tie the sacks or carpets to the door handles so that you don’t need to stop to pick them up until you have reached a better surface.

Article © Graham Benge 2007

Editor's choice