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KI­RAN Dev­gun from the In­sti­tute of Ad­vanced Mo­torists (IAM) shares her ad­vice with mo­torists trav­el­ling in the frosty, icy weather.

With tem­per­a­tures near freez­ing, here are her top tips on how driv­ers can en­sure they drive safely on icy roads. FIGHT the frost Don’t drive off with­out clean­ing your win­dows or side mir­rors – vis­i­bil­ity is ev­ery­thing! En­sure you use a good scraper and newly bought de-icer and switch on your in­ter­nal heater set­tings to clear away mist and con­den­sa­tion. What­ever you do, do not pour hot wa­ter on to your wind­screen as this is likely to freeze up straight away – wa­ter starts to freeze at four de­grees Cel­sius. TREAD care­fully Another thing you should do be­fore start­ing your jour­ney is check your tyres. Your tyres should have a le­gal min­i­mum tread of 1.6mm. You can use a tread depth gauge or the edge of a 10p coin to mea­sure and check the tread sur­face. Avoid trav­el­ling with de­fec­tive tyres as this will in­crease the like­li­hood of your car skid­ding on ice patches. Re­mem­ber, tyres are the only point of con­tact your car has with the road, so this is a cru­cial safety fac­tor. ON the road again Set off gen­tly in sec­ond gear, avoid­ing high revs. Set­ting off in sec­ond gear im­proves con­trol when you’re on the move and will avoid the risk of wheel spin. When you’re on the road, it’s im­por­tant you get your speed right – if you’re driv­ing too fast for the con­di­tions you risk los­ing con­trol.

If you drive an au­to­matic car, you should se­lect ‘2’ to travel on slip­pery and icy road con­di­tions to limit gear changes and make you less re­liant on us­ing the brakes. Some mod­ern cars will have a ‘win­ter’ mode that au­to­mat­i­cally locks out first gear to re­duce the risk of wheel spin. If you’re un­sure, re­fer to your hand­book for ad­vice. STAY in con­trol Stop­ping dis­tance on ice in­creases by up to 10 times, so make sure you in­crease the dis­tance be­tween your car and the ve­hi­cle in front of you. Although you might think it is best to use your brakes to stop on ice, your brakes may not al­ways do that for you. When ap­proach­ing junc­tions or go­ing down a slope the best thing you can do is re­duce your speed early enough so you stay in con­trol.

If you’re trav­el­ling up a hill in icy weather, you should avoid stop­ping. Try and main­tain a con­stant and steady speed, choos­ing the most suit­able gear in ad­vance to avoid hav­ing to change it when com­ing down the hill. GET a grip If your car does lose grip you should take your foot off the ac­cel­er­a­tor and point the front wheels in the di­rec­tion you want to go. Front-wheel-drive ve­hi­cles are gen­er­ally bet­ter in the frost or snow, but if your car is rear­wheel-drive, you should place heavy sand­bags or lug­gage in the boot to add some weight to your car and give you more con­trol. SPOT the ice When frost thaws, ice tends to stay in ar­eas that are shaded by trees and build­ings. You should take ex­tra care when trav­el­ling through th­ese ar­eas, be­cause even if you think the con­di­tions have im­proved they may still be icy. Con­sider mi­cro­cli­mates such as bridges over mo­tor­ways and ex­posed ar­eas where wind-chill may bring tem­per­a­tures down to be­low freez­ing. BREAK­DOWN ready A win­ter kit can be use­ful when your car breaks down in the cold weather. A shovel and some grit can help you pass through se­vere ice patches – so en­sure you have th­ese with you. You will also need to carry a fully charged mo­bile phone with you, with your break­down ser­vice provider’s num­ber al­ready in­stalled.

For more tips see Twit­ter @IAM­group #wheelsin­win­ter

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