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Advice for safe winter driving from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service

Hydraulic rescue equipment is used by firefighter Daniel Harries to free casualties trapped in cars
Mid and West Wales firefighters are issuing a stark warning to drivers to ensure road and fire related safety

Road and fire safety measures during winter from Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

How do you fancy being faced with one of these?

This is hydraulic rescue equipment and is used by firefighters to free casualties trapped in cars. Unfortunately this is an all too familiar sight for today's firefighters and despite a reduction in the number of people being killed on the roads in Wales, the figures are still alarming. Mid and West Wales firefighters are issuing a stark warning to drivers over the coming months.

Head of Community Safety, Wyn Cornelius, said: "Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service continues to work on road traffic collision reduction initiatives in partnership with Local Authority Road Safety Officers, Police, Ambulance and other agencies. We are involved in new and innovative schemes in schools and colleges to reduce, by way of education, training and publicity, the carnage we regularly witness on our roads. One of the most significant is Pass Plus Cymru - an exciting new scheme sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government to provide additional information and training to newly qualified young drivers, a group of road users who are particularly at risk on the roads of our communities.

Hand in hand with our educational work, are the improvements we are making to the operational side of our business, so as to provide an enhanced service at the scene of any RTC .These measures include improved training in extrication techniques and upgrading our existing fleet with some of the latest rescue technology.

Bearing in mind all of the above we recognise that driving in the winter presents all road users with additional challenges and hopefully, by following these common sense tips, you will not require our services or those of our partners."

A new scheme has been sponsored by the Welsh Assembly Government to provide additional information and training to newly qualified young drivers

Planning your journey

  • Is the journey essential?
  • Check the weather forecasts.
  • Keep updated on local travel information by listening to the Radio.
  • Inform someone at your destination.
  • Take a mobile telephone for use in the event of an emergency.
  • Equip yourself with warm clothes, boots, a blanket, a hot drink in a flask, a high-energy snack, a shovel/spade, a pen and paper and a torch. Take snow chains if you possess them.
  • Clear you windows and mirrors before you set off and keep a scraper and a can of de-icer in your vehicle at all times.

What happens if you are unfortunate enough to breakdown or get your vehicle stuck in severe wintry conditions?

Consider your surroundings. If you are located in a remote area it may be advisable to remain in your vehicle until help arrives.

If you decide to leave your vehicle, leave a note in a prominent location inside the vehicle stating where you are going and be physically prepared for the elements outside.

Driving in the winter presents all road users with additional challenges

Snow ploughs and Emergency Services will aim to reach areas in which they know there are difficulties, and remaining with your vehicle is often the best option.

Icy and slushy roads

  • It takes ten times longer to stop on an icy road than on a dry road. Drive slowly and allow plenty of stopping distance.
  • High gears prevent wheel spins.
  • Avoid harsh braking and acceleration.
  • To brake, use the gears to assist in slowing the vehicle before depressing the brake pedal (keeping the clutch engaged for as long as you can without stalling).
  • If you start to skid, ease off the accelerator but do not brake suddenly.


  • Try to ascertain your true level of visibility and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles at all times. Remember these conditions change rapidly as fog is often patchy.
  • Use dipped headlights, or fog lights if visibility is seriously limited, but remember to switch them off when visibility improves.
  • Keeping a safe distance does not necessarily mean being able to see the taillights of the vehicle in front; they may be driving too fast for the conditions. Do not rely on someone else to lead and dictate your speed.
  • If visibility starts to improve do not speed up, it may quickly deteriorate again.

Flooded roads

  • Check the depth of the water before proceeding through it. If it is too deep, DON´T RISK IT.
  • The deepest water is usually near the curb - avoid this area.
  • Drive slowly in first gear, but keep the engine speed high by slipping the clutch to prevent stalling.
  • Once through, check that your brakes have not been affected by the water before returning to normal speed.

Salting vehicles (gritters) and snow ploughs

  • These travel at speeds up to 40 mph and are very powerful - give them adequate room and do not attempt to overtake.

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