Spring is in air, evenings are getting lighter and days are getting warmer. If you’re a driver, you’re probably happy that there are no more dark mornings spent defrosting that car or black ice patches to avoid, but the new season brings with it fresh dangers.
Here are a few important things you need to need to know to help you stay safe on the roads.
Whilst rain is a common occurrence in the UK, April is the month most traditionally associated with showers and heavy downpours. If these showers follow a particularly long dry spell, they can make roads treacherous as road surfaces become very slippery, this greatly increases stopping distances. Couple that with the obvious impact rain has on visibility and you’ve got a potentially dangerous situation to contend with.
Top Tip: Make sure you use screenwash, not just water, to keep your windows clear, check your windscreen wipers are clean, dip your headlights when required and plan your manoeuvres in plenty of time.
- Flooded Roads
If the April showers turn into April storms and April floods, you may find yourself driving along a flooded area of road. If it looks too deep you need to stop, and if you’re not sure if it’s too deep you also need to stop and find an alternative route. If you can proceed, then do so with extreme caution.
Top Tips: Put yourself in as low a gear as possible and slip the clutch to keep the engine speed high. Make sure you avoid driving close to other vehicles as there may be bow waves, and finally always remember to test your brakes after your exit the flooded area.
Of course, you may end up in a situation where the scary prospect of aquaplaning rears its head, you lose your steering control and braking doesn’t work anymore. You’re essentially driving on skis!
Top Tips: Keep your speed low in wet conditions to reduce the risk. If it does happen, then to quote Corporal Jones, “Don’t Panic”. Try to keep a cool head and you’ll find it easier to deal with the problem. Ease off both the brakes and the accelerator until your tyres make contact with road again.
It’s not just rain that causes disruptions in spring, high winds are also a potential hazard. Branches, debris and other stray objects can appear on the road, and in extreme cases pedestrians or cyclists could end up in your path. Expect sudden gusts of wind, especially when passing high-sided vehicles.
Top Tips: Try to avoid over compensating your steering, slow down, maximise your stopping distances and give yourself more time to react.
In between the rain and high winds, we may be lucky enough to have some sunshine this spring. If you’re driving to and from work, you’re probably going to encounter a very low sun and that means glare and reduced visibility. It also means that other drivers have similar issues and they may not have had the benefit of reading this article!
Top Tips: Use your overhead visor and adjust your mirrors to minimise glare.
Everyone loves seeing newborn animals skipping around fields and learning new things, but they can also present a danger to drivers. Young animals can often stray and go looking for food, and this can sometimes end up with them appearing on rural roads. You also see an increase in people riding horses along roads as the warmer weather is more conducive to this.
Top Tips: Try to avoid swerving or braking harshly to avoid animals. Also, slow down if you see a horse and drive past slowly, giving them plenty of room and be ready to stop if necessary. Never sound your horn or rev your engine near horses.
As you can see, spring presents fresh challenges for road users, but follow these tips and you can help ensure you stay safe on the roads.
RoSPA Fleet Safety are working to reduce occupational road risk using innovative, behaviour-based solutions. Our goal is to be the global leader in driver and fleet safety.
Sign up for SafetyMatters – RoSPA’s FREE monthly newsletter.