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11 December 2017

Council responds to cold snap

Cumbria Police and highways teams have been responding to a number of road traffic collisions (RTC’s) and accidents this morning, as drivers’ battle with icy conditions across the road network. 

As sub-zero temperatures lead to potentially dangerous driving conditions, it is important to be familiar with some top tips for driving in icy conditions:

  • Firstly, think about whether your journey is really necessary.
  • Before you leave home, make sure you pack a charged mobile phone (and a charger cable), a bottle of water, a few snacks and a warm blanket. If snowfall looks likely, a set of snow socks - high-grip fabric covers fitted over the car’s wheels - is worth having, too.  If you’re driving to meet someone, let them know your route and when you expect to arrive.
  • Clear your field of vision: Darker, colder days with the sun lower in the sky make seeing out of your vehicle clearly more of a problem. Allow extra time to get your car ready before setting off, ensuring that the windows are clean, fully demisted and completely cleared of any ice or snow. Take sun glasses with you to help if you're dazzled by the sun.
  • Check your lights: Ensure that all your lights are working. Ask someone to watch from outside the car as you check all your lights. Check the headlights, indicators, brake lights and reverse lights. If any fail to work, it could mean other road users fail to see you slowing, turning or coming towards them. Seeing and being seen are crucial in the winter gloom.
  • Tyres: If possible, considering buying winter tyres, which are designed to grip the road better in icy, wet and snowy conditions. If this is not an option, ensure your standard tyres are inflated correctly and that you have a minimum of 3mm of tread on your tyres to cope with wet and slippery conditions.
  • Battery: In winter, the battery will run down quicker than in warmer weather. Make sure you do a regular long journey to top it up or trickle-charge the battery.
  • Beware of slippery roads: Be aware that cold and damp conditions change the road surface and make any manoeuvre more treacherous. Ensure your speed matches the conditions.
  • Take your time: Take more time at junctions. In full daylight you may just take a quick glance to check that a cyclist isn’t coming but in the low light conditions of winter mornings and evenings extend this time to be completely sure that pulling out of a side road won’t cause an accident.

There have also been reports of ground water continuing to run off local fields and on to the roads, leading to ice formation. We are gritting heavily to deal with problem areas but the advice is to remain vigilant, plan ahead and take extra caution when driving, including driving more slowly than usual.

Councillor Keith Little, Cabinet Member for Highways & Transport said:

“The drop in temperatures and difficult road conditions presents motorists with a number of issues that make drivers, cyclists and pedestrians more vulnerable. The council urges road users to plan ahead of their journey for delays and poor weather conditions, and supports the advice offered by motoring authorities such as the Institute of Advanced Motorists, RAC and Department for Transport. It is vital to ensure your vehicle is prepared for the winter and to be aware of slippery road surfaces as well as taking a supply of warm clothes and food on all journeys. 

“Cumbria has some of the highest terrain and most challenging roads in the country. Our gritting team plays a vital role in keeping the county moving and are well prepared for whatever challenges the weather continues to bring this winter. It’s also very important that people exercise the same caution on treated routes as they do on non-treated roads - just because a road has been gritted doesn’t mean it is safe in sub-zero temperatures.”

The council keeps a close eye on weather forecasts and decisions on where and when to grit are triggered by a network of roadside weather monitoring stations checking road surface temperatures across the county.

Daily updates on the council’s gritting plans for the road network are available on our Twitter account, @CumbriaGritters.

The cold weather and icy conditions also present challenges in our homes - it’s important to check on neighbours, friends, family and any vulnerable members of your local community to make sure they have everything they need, especially if they’re spending long periods indoors.

Here are some top tips to prepare for and stay safe during colder weather:

  • Look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold and ensure they have access to warm food, drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately
  • Try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, particularly if you are not mobile, have long term illness or are 65 or over
  • Stay tuned for weather forecasts, ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance (have deliveries or ask a friend to help)
  • Take weather into account when planning your activity over the following days
  • Avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold related illness or falls
  • Discuss with friends and neighbours about clearing snow and ice from in front of your house and public walkways nearby, if unable to do so yourself

The cold snap arrives just a week after the council launched its annual #WinterReady campaign - to ensure people have the right information, advice and guidance at their fingertips, helping them be better prepared for the coming months.

For more information visit www.cumbriawinterready.org.uk and look out for #WinterReady updates via the council’s social media platforms.

Cumbria County Council is responding to the current cold snap by urging people to be aware of the Met Office’s weather warning – currently a yellow level warning across much of the region for snow and ice.