15th December 2018

Keep safe on the road this winter

Somerset County Council’s road safety team has some helpful advice to keep everyone safe on the roads over the winter months.

Heavy rain, high winds, ice, snow, and shorter hours of daylight can make driving/riding over the winter months a challenging experience. It’s important for road users to realise that road conditions can be challenging and change quickly, and that altering your driving or riding makes all the difference.

Preparation is also important – check the weather forecast and road conditions and make sure you leave extra time for your journey if conditions look bad. You can find the latest update on any significant issues on the county’s road at www.travelsomerset.co.uk

Motorists are also urged to be aware of changes to the Council’s precautionary road gritting this winter – the roads that are treated as a matter of course when temperatures are forecast to drop below 1C.

This year, in light of the continued budget pressures facing all local authorities, 17 per cent of the total network (720 miles) will be gritted on a precautionary basis, a reduction on the 21 per cent (900 miles) in previous years.

You can check which roads are included by visiting www.travelsomerset.co.uk/gritting – you can zoom in and search by location or road name.

The emergency plans for times of snow are not affected by the change and will continue as usual.

Keeping your vehicle in good condition is also essential. Breaking down at the side of the road on a dark and stormy night can put the lives of everyone in the vehicle at risk. Reduce the chance of this by doing some simple maintenance: check lights, tyres and engine fluids on a weekly basis, and make sure you have enough fuel for your journey before you set off.

Consider keeping an emergency kit in the boot of your vehicle; it could prove invaluable should the worst occur. Suggested contents include:

  • Blanket
  • Hi Vis jacket
  • Warm clothes
  • Wellington boots
  • Torch and spare batteries
  • Jump leads
  • Shovel
  • Bottle of water
  • Road atlas
  • First aid kit

The road safety team has the following tips to help keep you safe on the roads over the winter months:

  • Check the weather forecast before setting off and avoid travelling if hazardous conditions are predicted
  • Leave more time for your journey
  • Completely de-ice/mist the windows of your vehicle before driving off
  • Remember that not all roads are salted. Take extra care when driving/riding on unsalted roads and be aware that ice can still form on roads that have been treated
  • Mind your speed and drive/ride for the road conditions
  • Increase the distance between your vehicle and the one in front – stopping distances can be 10 times longer in icy conditions
  • Use your lights so that other road users can see you
  • Avoid distractions and look out for other road users, particularly vulnerable road users such as bikers, cyclists and pedestrians

Cllr John Woodman, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways said: “Using the roads over the winter months can be challenging but by taking a few precautions and by following the advice of the Council’s road safety team you can give yourself the best chance of staying safe on the county’s roads.”

For more information on road safety visit: www.somersetroadsafety.org