Drive safe this new year with the help of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

PUBLISHED: 11:59 01 January 2009 | UPDATED: 15:57 11 May 2010

BRUSH up on your driving this New Year with the help of some tips from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). The road safety charity has a winter driving factsheet available online at www.rospa.com/drivertraining/winter/

BRUSH up on your driving this New Year with the help of some tips from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

The road safety charity has a winter driving factsheet available online at www.rospa.com/drivertraining/winter/, covering a range of weather issues drivers need to think about, including snow, ice, fog and winter sun.

Drivers embarking on long trips might also find RoSPA's Safer Journey Planner helpful - a factsheet which has tips for planning long journeys (see www.rospa.com/roadsafety/info/safer_journey.pdf).

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at RoSPA, said: "Safer winter driving is about good preparation - making sure that you are in a good state to drive, that your vehicle is in a good condition and that you've planned your journey.

"As well as understanding how the weather can affect driving conditions, it's also important that drivers are mindful of the danger of getting behind the wheel when they are tired. Tired drivers are much more likely to have an accident, and the crash is likely to be severe because a drowsy or sleeping driver does not usually brake or swerve before the impact.

"Many people will be travelling long distances this Christmas, so we encourage them to plan their journeys in advance. Consider when to drive, which might mean avoiding driving in the early hours of the morning, when you have had less sleep than normal, or in mid-afternoon after eating a large meal - all peak times for sleep-related accidents. Also, remember to plan in rest stops," he said.

Even though some parts of the country are already experiencing their first snow of the winter, it is not too late to think about whether your car is ready for this time of year. RoSPA's advice includes:

- Check your lights are clean and working

- Keep the windscreen and windows clean and the washer bottle filled with screenwash to the correct concentration

- Items to carry in the car include de-icing equipment, a first aid kit (in good order) and a working torch

- Think about whether you could cope if you got stuck in snow. You might want to carry a blanket, a pair of boots, a shovel, a high-visibility jacket and a mobile phone (although don't use it when you're driving).

Mr Clinton added: "If weather conditions are very bad, avoid making your journey unless it is absolutely necessary. If you do head out in snow or icy conditions, remember that good observation is essential.

"You should always aim to brake, steer and change gear as smoothly as possible so as not to affect the grip of your tyres on the road surface. And, of course, watch your speed and keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

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