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Page last updated at 17:10 GMT, Monday, 29 November 2010
Guide to driving safely in winter weather conditions

Cars in the snow
Driving in winter conditions can be dangerous

Once the snow starts to fall or the gales being to howl, our driving skills are pushed to the limit - so do you know how to prepare for bad conditions?

As winter hits the Royal County we have tips and advice for you to prepare for severe weather.

Driving experts say you should prepare yourself and your car for winter driving.

The Highways Agency is using state-of-the-art winter vehicles across the whole South East region for the first time to help combat the problems caused by last year's snow.

The vehicles are capable of clearing snow and accurately spreading dry, treated and pre-wetted salt, giving maximum flexibility for treating the roads.

They will also be more efficient at treating the roads, and will use up to 25% less salt than traditional methods, conserving supplies and benefitting the environment.

The Agency, which manages England's motorways and major roads, has also reviewed salt stock levels to help ensure that there is enough salt to deal with conditions.

Check local and national weather forecasts. Listen to travel information on the radio
Keep your space and look a long way ahead
Slow down by decelerating rather than braking
Apply brakes gently, apply accelerator gently, turn the steering wheel gently
If you skid, ease off the accelerator, but do not brake suddenly
If you're going up a slippery hill, use as high a gear as possible. Don't start off in first, try second or third
Dazzle from the low winter sun can also be dangerous. Carry a pair of sunglasses in the car

"The Highways Agency is prepared for winter, but road users must also play their part," Roads Minister Mike Penning said.

"Not all journeys are essential in severe weather, but if people feel that they must travel during severe conditions there are some simple steps that can reduce the risk of being caught out by the weather.

"That's why I am urging all drivers to carry out simple vehicle checks before they set out.

"I also urge people to carry a severe weather emergency kit in their vehicles, to monitor the traffic and weather conditions, and plan their journeys."

Severe Weather Kit

This should include the following items - an ice scraper, de-icer, a torch, warm clothes, a blanket, a pair of boots, a first-aid kit, battery jump leads, a spade if it's likely to snow, food and drink.

As well as snow and ice, strong winds, heavy rain and thick fog can affect journeys in the winter season. Met Office weather forecasters based in the National Traffic Control Centre will provide information on weather conditions across the motorway and trunk road network.

Drivers can obtain up to the minute information on winter traffic conditions from:

• the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000

• the Highways Agency's 'Traffic Radio', broadcast on DAB digital

• the Agency's website at www.highways.gov.uk/traffic

• the Agency's iPhone app and mobile website

For detailed information on local and national weather conditions, visit the Met Office website at www.metoffice.gov.uk or listen to BBC Radio Berkshire for updates.

The Highways Agency information line is 0845 750 4030

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