A sweet message – DONUT get caught out this winter!
Soon you will start to see our winter mascot, the Frozen Donut, out and about on Buckinghamshire’s roads on the doors of our yellow gritting fleet. Designed by Daisy and Lily from the Hyde Heath Brownies, the Frozen Donut was created to help TfB spread its important message in the colder weather – DONUT Get Caught Out!
DONUT get caught out – be prepared!
Whether it’s raining heavily, blowing a gale, or below freezing outside you should check the weather forecast before making long journeys. It’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car, should you encounter problems and become stranded; a fully charged mobile phone, some food (long life things like cereal bars), blankets, warm clothing, a torch, shovel, de-icer, a scraper, and a flask of hot tea or coffee are all sensible items to either keep in the car or grab before heading out on long journeys. Your car itself should be prepared for winter too – the AA recommends taking certain measures to lessen your chances of a breakdown:
- Antifreeze – check coolant level regularly and, if required, top-up with a mixture of the correct type of antifreeze. Your garage should check concentration to ensure adequate cold temperature protection.
- Battery – the most common cause of winter breakdowns. A battery more than five years old may struggle in the cold - get it checked and replaced if necessary to avoid the inconvenience of an unplanned failure.
- Fuel – keep at least a quarter of a tank in case of unexpected delay.
- Lights – check and clean all lights regularly to make sure you can see and be seen clearly. Carry spare bulbs.
- Tyres – should have at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring. Consider winter tyres for improved safety. Check pressures at least every fortnight.
- Windscreen – reduce dazzle from the low sun by keeping the screen clean inside and out. Now is a good time to renew worn wiper blades.
- Screen wash – use a 50% mix of a good quality screen wash to reduce the chance of freezing in frosty weather.
- Locks and door seals – stop doors freezing shut with a thin coat of polish or Vaseline on rubber door seals. A squirt of water dispersant (WD-40) in locks will help stop them freezing.
Remember – no matter how well kitted out your car is for winter, there are other ways you can get stranded that aren’t due to a breakdown. A jack-knifed lorry, a fallen tree, or a snow drift could all cause you to become stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic for hours at a time – that’s where the emergency kit comes in handy!
DONUT get caught out – drive to the conditions
We’ve covered this recently with a blog about driving to the conditions of the road, particularly in icy weather. However there are other severe weather scenarios in which you ought to adjust your driving.
Driving in heavy rain or flood:
- Visibility is reduced in heavy rain, so use your lights and make sure you can be seen - don't just rely on the vehicle running lights if you have them. Be aware that even in lighter rain the amount of spray can also reduce visibility.
- When the road is wet it can take twice as long to stop. Slow down and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
- If your vehicle loses grip (aquaplanes) on surface water, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down. Do not brake or steer suddenly because you have less control of the steering and brakes.
- Try to avoid driving through surface water as you might flood your engine.
- If you have to drive through floods, drive slowly, use a low gear and try to keep the engine revving at a high rate. Move forward continuously to avoid stalling the engine. When driving an automatic vehicle, engage and hold in a low gear.
- Test your brakes after driving through water; they may be ineffective.
- Make sure your windscreen wipers are working effectively. They will need to work especially hard in torrential rain and hailstorms and if your visibility is reduced, please slow down
Driving in fog
- Use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you.
- If it is foggy (less than 100 m visibilities) then switch on your fog lights. Do not forget to turn them off when conditions improve.
- Fog is often patchy so try not to speed up as visibility improves. You could suddenly find yourself back in thick fog further up the road.
Driving in windy weather
- Take extra care on the roads and plan your journey by checking the latest weather conditions.
- Though high-sided vehicles are particularly affected by windy weather, strong winds can also blow other vehicles off course. This can happen on open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds, or when passing bridges, high-sided vehicles or gaps in trees.
DONUT get caught out – stay up to date!
Forewarned is forearmed – it might sound clichéd but it’s true! We do everything we can at TfB to ensure we are producing the most timely and helpful information concerning our road network in Buckinghamshire. There are several ways you can get the most up-to-date information in extreme weather:
- Follow us on Twitter – we post daily gritting decisions every day in winter, as well as tweeting about road closures, traffic incidents, and problems on the network such as burst water pipes or gas works. Follow us at @TFBAlerts
- Check the website – there’s loads of resources on our website, buckscc.gov.uk/transport, such as the online reporting portal ‘Tell TfB’ where you can report road defects such as pot holes and broken street lights, and interactive maps showing the location and details of Buckinghamshire roadworks. On the winter maintenance page, buckscc.gov.uk/transport/were-working-on-it/winter-maintenance/ you can see the daily gritting decision (for those who don’t use Twitter) and find out all about gritting routes and procedures.
- Track the gritters – using our interactive map, you can see where abouts in the Buckinghamshire network each one of our gritting fleet is! This is another way of seeing whether or not the roads are being treated, and whether they are currently treating roads on one of your most-used routes.
To report emergencies, such as trees blocking the road or serious road defects, please call TfB on 01296 382416 or 01296 486630 (out of hours)