With Storm Dennis arriving and seemingly staying around, we are experiencing massively changeable driving conditions this week. As a motorist, do you know what to do or how to cope? IAM RoadSmart is here to help.
There are some key items you’ll need in your vehicle all year around to help you stay safe on the road. Richard Gladman, the charity’s head of driving and riding standards, talks about the nine essentials you should always keep in your vehicle.
It’s always a good idea to keep an ice-scraper and can of de-icer in your vehicle. With such changeable conditions in the UK it can be sunny one day and frosty the next.
Carry an empty fuel can with you. Don’t carry a full or partially full one as this is a fire risk and if it has recently had fuel in it, flammable vapour may still be present.
You never know when you’ll need a first aid kit, so keeping one in the boot of your car is always useful for either yourself or another road user if you’re first on scene at an accident.
If you’ve broken down on the side of the road, the last thing you want is to be cold and unable to see your way around the dark. We advise drivers to keep a torch and set of batteries in their vehicle, along with warm clothes, a blanket and a high visibility jacket. And don’t forget food and drink to stop your energy levels from dropping - bottled water is a must.
The battery on your car can go flat at any time, so keep a set of jump leads in your car.
Keep a spare pair of sturdy shoes with good grip in your boot. You may need these to turn the wheel brace when changing a tyre, or to push your car if you’ve broken down.
An item that’s often overlooked is the reflective warning triangle. This gives you extra security for a number of reasons, such as breaking down in the dark. Put it out in accordance with the rule from the Highway code 274 which advises to “put a warning triangle on the road at least 45 metres (147 feet) behind your broken-down vehicle on the same side of the road, or use other permitted warning devices if you have them. Always take great care when placing or retrieving them, but never use them on motorways.”
A lot of us use our satnavs to travel to unfamiliar places, but what if your battery dies and you can’t find the charger? Or if it takes you the wrong way? The best thing to do is to refer to your trusty road atlas, so buy an up-to-date copy every year and keep it in your car. A good rule of thumb is to look at your road map before you set off to get an idea of the direction you need to travel in. Find yourself a place to aim for or motorway signs to look out for.
Finally, your mobile phone. Switch it to silent and place it in the glovebox to avoid any temptation to use it, but it will be there ready if you need it.
Richard said: “A journey can be a pleasant experience with the right planning. But it can turn into a nightmare if circumstances change and you do not have the right tools for the job. Getting stranded either in suddenly changing weather conditions, breakdowns or road closures will be made more bearable if you can let people know where you are and be in relative comfort until you can get moving again.”
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IAM RoadSmart has a mission to make better drivers and riders in order to improve road safety, inspire confidence and make driving and riding enjoyable. It does this through a range of courses for all road users, from online assessments through to the advanced driving and riding tests. IAM RoadSmart is the trading name of all businesses operated by the UK’s largest road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and was formed in April 2016 combining the IAM, IAM Drive & Survive, PDS and IAM Driver Retraining Academy. The organisation has 92,000 members and campaigns on road safety on their behalf. At any one time there are over 7,000 drivers and riders actively engaged with IAM RoadSmart’s courses, from members of the public to company drivers, while our Driver Retraining Academy has helped 2,500 drivers to shorten their bans through education and support programmes.
To find out more about IAM RoadSmart products and services visit the new website www.iamroadsmart.com
To find out the name of your own local IAM RoadSmart group please visit: https://wwwiamroadsmart.com/local-groups