Long-range winter weather forecasts have been predicting heavy snow, icy winds, frosts for late 2013 and early 2014. It's important, as a motorist, to be prepared for whatever winter will throw at you. Here's what to do if you get stuck for an hour or even overnight:
• Keep your car topped up with fuel so you can run it to keep warm if you get stuck in snow. You'll also be able to warn other road users of your presence with your side lights or hazard lights should you get stuck.
• Carry a warning triangle so you can warn oncoming traffic of your vehicle’s presence.
• Operate the heater and heated seats only when the engine is running - they'll quickly flatten the battery if the motor is off.
• If your car does break down on the motorway move it to the hard shoulder and make a note of the nearest roadside marker so you can inform the rescue services of your precise location. Failing that, use your smartphone's maps.
• If you must abandon your car, leave it at the roadside and always stand behind the barrier. Remember that even if you are parked on the hard shoulder or a verge, you may end up blocking access for emergency services, so think carefully about where to leave it.
• Only wait in your car if conditions demand it. If there is fast-moving traffic, you are safer outside the vehicle and behind the safety barrier than in it. Put the hazard lights on to warn other road users.
• If are are stuck in your car overnight, and heavy snow is falling, you'll need to make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of obstructions. Check every couple of hours before running the engine.
• If you run out of fuel you won't be able to run the engine to keep warm. Ask fellow motorists if you can shelter in their cars. If there are no other cars nearby, consider walking to the nearest house, but only do so if you have suitable clothing and footwear, and weather conditions allow it. Only call 999 (or 112 if in Europe) if it's an emergency.
Find out what you should carry in your car to make winter driving more bearable here.