Take care if you have to drive in the extreme weather

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Driving conditions will be hazardous over the next few days, as the 'Beast from the East' weather front meets Storm Emma.

With severe weather warnings in place across much of the country, the best advice is to only travel if really necessary, and try to avoid driving during the worst conditions.

If you have to head out on the roads, plan your route, allow plenty of extra time for your journey, and stick to the main roads where you can. Drive with care and respect the road conditions wherever you drive, but if you cannot avoid driving on a minor road, take extra care.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: "If you must drive, do your preparations -- check local weather and traffic reports, plan your route carefully using main roads where possible and consider alternative routes in case you encounter difficulties. Clear your car of snow and ice and ensure you have good all-round visibility and that your screen wash is fully topped up with quality additive.

"Take care on the roads and drive to the conditions -- keep your speed down, leave plenty of room between your car and the vehicle in front, and avoid braking and accelerating sharply."

The RAC is urging motorists who venture out to pack an emergency winter driving kit -- including extra warm clothing, sturdy footwear, a shovel and a torch -- and to follow a series of simple safety checks.

Williams explained: "Use the acronym 'FORCES of winter' to run through the DIY checks. 'F' is for fuel -- ensure you have plenty for your planned journey. 'O' is for oil -- one third of cars our patrols attend are running dangerously low on oil and this could cause catastrophic engine failure. 'R' is for rubber -- check your tyre treads -- ideally you need at least 3mm to maintain good grip and traction on snow and ice and ensure they are at the correct pressure. Also check your wiper blades aren't perished and they do a good job of clearing your windscreen. 'C' is for coolant -- top up if necessary -- you don't want your car overheating when you are stuck in sub-zero temperatures. 'E' is for electrics -- most importantly your lights -- ensure they are all working and that they are clean and free from salt and muck. 'S' -- finally check your screen wash is topped up and use a quality additive which is effective down to at least -15 or -20 degrees Celsius."

Have you encountered tricky driving conditions this week?

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