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Drive safely in the stormy weather‏

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Road safety charity the IAM is offering tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. Following severe weather warnings of storms over the coming days, the IAM is advising on how to drive in windy weather.

In the wind

· Strong winds can also unsettle your car and even change your direction of travel. Grip your steering wheel firmly and also be ready for the effects of the wind on other road users, particularly motorcyclists and flat-sided vehicles like lorries.

· Plan your journey – is there a route with less exposure to the weather and less risk of fallen trees?  Choose a sheltered route if you have the option.

· Strong winds are not constant, they are usually gusty so ensure you hold the steering wheel firmly.

· Overtaking high sided vehicles or driving past buildings can result in a sudden gust from the side as you clear.

· Give cyclists, motorcyclists, lorries and buses more room than usual.  They get blown around by side winds easily.  Even pedestrians can be blown about.

· Watch trees and bushes on the roadside - their branches can show you how strong the wind is.  Look well ahead, that way you don’t need to take your eye off the road and you can see any windy patches before you get to them.

· Go slow enough to cope with the gusts.  Wind can get under a car and reduce its handling and braking significantly.

· Keep an eye on what is happening to other vehicles – where they are affected will give you a pre warning.

· Go slowly enough to cope with the tree that has fallen right across the road, just round the bend where you can’t see it.

· Be careful of debris, try and have space beside you in case you need to dodge it.

In the rain

· Before you set off, set your heater controls – rain can makes the windows mist up in seconds. You don’t want to be fiddling with controls when you should be concentrating on the road.

· See and be seen. Put your lights on – as a rule of thumb, whenever you need to use your wipers you should also turn your dipped headlights on, and before overtaking put your wipers on their fastest setting.

· Keep your eyes on the road ahead and plan your driving so that you can brake, accelerate and steer smoothly – harsh manoeuvres will unbalance the car.

· Slow down. In the rain stopping distance is at least doubled. Giving yourself more space also helps to avoid spray, especially when following a large vehicle.

· If you have cruise control, avoid using it on wet roads – you need to pay more attention to the road surface conditions and alter your speed gently.

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