A Siberian winter blasting across the UK


This year is certainly proving to be a challenge. A Siberian winter blasting across the UK and Europe bringing temperatures plummeting with the likelihood of even more snow and ice on the way! Weather conditions could deteriorate suddenly, so ensure your vehicle does not have any underlying mechanical issues and be prepared for the roads.

In addition, you are advised to carry: de-icer spray and a good quality windscreen scraper; a shovel; waterproof and warm clothing; a hat and gloves; a blanket; a flask of tea or coffee and high-energy food such as chocolate.

When driving in the snow, be aware of the change in stopping distances – they can increase by as much as 10 times compared to dry conditions.

Driving slowly allows you to take control, keeping you within stopping distance. The RAC has created the acronym FORCES as an easy way for car and van users to remember what needs to be checked. Much of this applies to HGV drivers too;

  • Fuel
  • Oil
  • Rubber
  • Coolant
  • Electrics
  • Screen wash

Fuel –May seem obvious, but it can be easy to be stranded if you have not checked that you have enough fuel in the tank.

Oil – According to the RAC oil levels are very low in one in three vehicles. This can lead to a breakdown or damage to the engine.

Rubber – This refers to your tyres and wiper blades. Make sure the tyre pressure is correct, check the tread depth, and look for signs of general wear and tear. A minimum tread level of 1.6mm is acceptable during winter, however; to assist with traction and grip it is advisable to have 3mm of tread.

If the vehicle is not kept in a garage, cover your windscreen with a blanket or sheet to keep the snow and ice off. Ensure the wiper blades have not frozen; if they are, use warm water and de-icer to free them.

Coolant – or anti-freeze as we say in the UK. Avoid a frozen engine or over-heating your car or van by making sure your anti-freeze levels are topped up.

Electrics – Check your lights are working before setting out on your journey. Visibility is vital. You need to see clearly, as well as be seen by other drivers. To get a better idea of your vehicle’s overall electrical health get your battery checked out. If it is over 4 years old, it may be getting to the end of its life.

Screen Wash – Wintery weather means there is more salt, grit and dirt on the road. Keeping your windscreen clean is important and remember to top up with a good quality screen wash.

Whether driving the family saloon or an HGV extra care should be taken when driving in dangerous conditions. Always consider whether the journey can be delayed until it is safe.

M R Ratcliffe Consultants Ltd has been insurance brokers for over 40 years specialising in the transport industry and will be happy to advise you on any commercial insurance matter.