WITH winter only just started and already a cold snap that lasted more than a week having occurred, the Highways Agency has issued advice and guidance for people travelling over the Christmas and New Year period as well as into the remainder of the winter.

The guidance is especially pertinent to isolated rural areas like Ludlow south Shropshire and Tenbury and the Teme Valley where people are at greater risk of becoming stranded.

“In preparation for winter, keeping a kit of essential items like a torch and warm clothes, in your vehicle, can be vital in case you and your passengers become stranded,” said Dale Hipkiss, National Network Manager at National Highways.  

“Freezing conditions bring so many hazards such as snow and ice and take every possible step to understand your journey in advance and allow lots of extra time when travelling to prepare for the unexpected.  

 “It is therefore always important to plan ahead for your journey, listen to the weather forecasts, and if weather conditions become challenging, adjust your driving behaviour and take extra care.”

There is a particular need for people travelling in rural areas to be careful .

A survival kit should be carried in the car including warm clothes and blankets, sun glasses to help with the low winter sun, a torch, de-icer and scraper as well as boots and a snow shovel. It is important to carry a fully charged mobile phone and charger along with food and drink.

In ice and snow stopping distances can be up to 10 times that in good conditions and so speed should be reduced.

Using a high gear will help reduce wheel spin and harsh braking should be avoided. Starting gently with low revs will help, if possible staring in second gear for those in a vehicle with manual transmission.

The car should also be in a good condition with all lights working and windows clear. Cold weather is much more likely to find out weaknesses such as a below par battery and tyres that are not up to scratch.

Keep to main roads where possible and if conditions are bad keep up with weather forecasts and only travel if absolutely necessary.