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Winter Driving Tips. Interior view from the inside of a car looking out onto a winter scene of a motorway

Winter Driving Tips

Driving in winter is very different to other times of the year, bad weather conditions and longer periods of darkness can make even familiar roads treacherous and unpredictable.

When planning on driving in adverse conditions listen to the weather warnings and ask yourself if your trip is really necessary.

If travel is unavoidable, ensure everything on your car is in good working order, especially your tyres, lights and windscreen wipers. Keep a full tank of fuel and emergency kit in the car in case of accidents, breakdowns or jams.

Before setting off make sure all internal glass surfaces on your car are clear of mist and externally clear of ice and snow. It is illegal and dangerous to drive if visibility is impeded.

Always put safety before punctuality and leave plenty of time for your journey. Get your speed right to maintain the correct stopping distances between vehicles.

Remember your journey can contain many micro climates so always beware of the weather and driving conditions.

Here are a few tips to driving safe in our changeable weather;

Heavy rain:

Use the windscreen wipers to aid visibility.

Reduce speed to avoid aquaplaning. Should you find the car sliding, ease off the accelerator and brake until your speed drops sufficiently for the car tyres to make contact with the road again.

Remember you need twice the braking distance to slow down and stop.

Do not attempt to drive through deep or fast flowing flood water.

Remember to test your brakes after driving through water.

Snow & Ice:

If you start to skid when driving in snow or icy conditions, don’t panic, reduce your speed, apply the brakes slowly and smoothly, release and de-clutch, keeping the wheels pointing towards where you want to go and allowing your speed to fall.

Remember you need up to ten times the braking distance to slow down and stop.

When driving downhill, reduce speed, keep in a low gear and avoid using the brakes.

When driving uphill, choose a suitable gear in advance, keep at a constant speed and avoid stopping.

If stuck in a rut, move the vehicle slowly backwards and forwards using the highest gear you can. Do not rev your engine as this will make matters worse.

If you are truly stuck, do not leave the vehicle, switch off the engine and call your breakdown service for help.

The biggest danger is “black ice”, not really black but transparent and invisible. It forms most commonly when the temperature is at their coldest. It forms readily on Bridges and on parts of the road where the sun doesn’t shine such as under overpasses as they are normally the first to freeze and the last to thaw.

Fog:

In gloomy conditions reduce your speed and always use dipped headlights, never use full beams in fog as it reflects light back.

Put your fog lights on if visibility drops below 100 meters.

If visibility is very poor, it is advisable to approach junctions and crossroads slowly and wind down your window to enable you to listen out for approaching traffic, however; if you really cannot see, you should consider pulling over and stopping until it is safe to continue your journey.

Strong winds:

Reduce your speed.

Avoid driving a high sided vehicle.

Keep tight control of the steering wheel.

Take extra care on bridges and exposed roads.

Low sunshine:

Reduce your speed

Ensure your windscreen is clean and streak free inside and out

Have a pair of sunglasses to hand

For further information:

http://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/winter-driving

http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/drivers/better-driving/winter-tips/

Keep Your Home Safe While On Holiday

Keep Your Home Safe While On Holiday : 10 Essential Tips

The holiday season is a great time to unwind and experience exotic destinations. The use of technology has allowed us to protect the homes we leave behind, and we’ve therefore taken the opportunity to highlight our top ten tips to ensure your future holidays remain memorable for all the right reasons.

1.Managing social media

Hacking into social media accounts can be an easy way to check if your house is unoccupied and  increases the chance of a burglary. Children in particular can be unaware of the pitfalls of providing details of forthcoming holidays.

2. Electronic alarm systems

An approved intruder alarm is a good deterrent but don’t forget to set the system and let the key holders know that you’re away. A remotely monitored system can also incorporate the fire protection – so consider upgrading the fire alarm to link into the intruder alarm panel.

3. Install time switches

The use of time switches for lighting and audio systems is a simple way to give the impression of  occupancy thus reducing the risk for opportunist burglars.

4. CCTV cameras

Modern CCTV cameras are good visual deterrents. Cameras can be used simply as a means of access control or arranged to provide full perimeter protection. Some systems allow remote viewing via your smart phone or tablet device too, which is useful if you’re away from home regularly.

5. Water leaks

When the home is unoccupied there is a higher risk of water damage going unnoticed. If there is daily attendance by a neighbour or staff then this can reduce the risk. Alternatively the plumber can shut-off the water supply before you leave or you could consider a water leak detection system which would turn off the water supply in the event of an abnormal flow.

6.Allow a friend or neighbour to leave their car in the driveway

Some private clients also use professional house sitters while on extended vacations who can look after pets while keeping the house occupied too.

7.While in another country

It is easy to relax and forget where you are when your holiday starts, which is the whole point of a

holiday. However, this makes you more vulnerable and an easier target. Try to lower your profile and blend in to avoid attracting attention and ensure that you are never isolated away from your group.

8. Store valuables in the main hotel safe

The guest room safes provided by hotels only have limited security features so we recommend using the main hotel safe for any valuables taken on holiday.

9. Have a mobile phone available at all times

For emergencies with speed dial for the police, friends and family nearby.

10. Remember your personal safety is more important than your personal property

If confronted by criminals, agree to their demands as this will diffuse the situation and avoid confrontation.

by AIG Private Client Group (PDF of article here)