Police in Airdrie have issued a series of safety tips for motorists attempting to drive in the week’s treacherous wintry weather conditions.
Many road users have been concerned in particular by rumours that they could be fined for driving with snow on their roofs.
The Road Policing Unit said that there is no specific legislation on driving with snow on the roof of a vehicle, however if it slips over the windscreen, or flies into the path of another car, it could leave the driver open to being penalised for driving without due consideration, dangerous driving, not being in proper control of the vehicle, not having a full view ahead and windows not being sufficiently clean.
A police spokesman said: “Any snow left on vehicle bodywork, such as the bonnet or roof, could slide onto lights or windows causing dangerous obstruction to vision of the driver or signals to other road users.
“Any large amount of snow could slide from a moving vehicle and onto a footpath or roadway possibly causing danger or injury to other road users or pedestrians.”
Prepare your vehicle for the journey
Road police are urging drivers to prepare by keeping vehicles in top condition before taking to the road. They say:
Take special care that brakes, tyres, lights, batteries, windscreens and wiper blades are in good condition and well maintained. In addition, washer bottles need to contain an additive to stop the water from freezing.
Plan ahead. Check the forecast, road conditions and consider alternative routes. Allow extra time for your journey and check your planned route is free from delays.
When did you last check your tyres? Tyres should be checked weekly to ensure they are legal and at the correct pressure. The minimum legal tread depth for cars is 1.6mm across the centre three-quarters of the breadth of the tread around the entire circumference, 1mm for motorcycles. They should also be checked for bulges, cuts or tears which will weaken the tyre. Failure to maintain your tyres could lead to a maximum of £2,500 fine and three penalty points per tyre.
Windscreens, wiper blades and windows must be kept clean and free from defects. Make sure it is properly demisted and clear of snow and ice before you drive. Low sun can make it difficult to see and a dirty, greasy or damage windscreen can make this worse.
All lights including reflectors must be kept clean and clear and be in good working order. This includes registration plate lights. Cyclists must have white front and rear red lights lit at night. Be seen and be safe.
Remember to change the way you drive
The police also today issued a number of tips and advice for driving safely in the conditions.
The spokesman said: “Bad weather is often blamed for causing accidents, but the real cause is inappropriate driving for the conditions that exist.”
“In wet weather stopping distances will be at least double those required for stopping on dry roads. Aquaplaning can be a frightening experience. This is where a wedge of water builds up between the front tyres and the road surface. The safest solution is to remove the pressure from the accelerator, allowing the vehicle to lose speed and the tyres to regain their grip.
“Keep well back from the road user in front in icy or snowy weather. Stopping distances can be ten times greater. When the roads are icy, drive at slow speed in as high a gear as possible and accelerate and brake very gently.
“High-sided vehicles are most affected by windy weather. Motorcyclists and cyclists can easily be blown off course particularly in open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds.
“When driving in fog use dipped headlights so other drivers can see you. Fog lights can only be used when visibility is seriously reduced to less than 100 metres but they must be switched off if visibility improves. Be prepared for a bank of fog or drifting patchy fog ahead. Even if it seems to be clearing, you can suddenly find yourself in thick fog.
“Avoid driving in icy or snowy conditions unless your journey is essential. If you do, we recommend you take an emergency kit of: scraper, de-icer, torch, first aid kit, jump leads, shovel, warm drink and emergency food in case you get stuck or break down.”
More things to remember
Extra points to remember in the snow include:
Cyclists should have suitable lights on their bicycles and wear reflective and fluorescent clothing and a cycle helmet.
Parents of children who do paper rounds during the hours of darkness at this time of year should ensure their children are given this protection.
Pedestrians should ensure they wear bright clothing, particularly in rural areas where the street lighting is either non-existent or very limited.