Avoid ‘detrimental’ car button when clearing frost and snow

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The Met Office has issued a new amber weather warning for snow across the Midlands and North of England today and tomorrow. It warns that heavy snow is likely to cause significant disruption, with travel delays on roads likely, potentially leaving some vehicles and passengers stranded.

With the March snow affecting millions of people across the country, drivers are being urged to remain safe on the roads.

Before setting off, it is vital for motorists to properly clear their windscreen to ensure they can see before travelling in what could already be considered dangerous conditions.

This includes removing any snow from the roof and windows and clearing any frost and ice which could have an impact on visibility,

Rule 229 of the Highway Code requires drivers to ensure they do not have obscured vision and that any snow or ice on their car will not fall off into the path of another road user.

While the cold temperatures continue, experts are warning drivers to avoid one button in particular as it could lead to windows getting misted on the inside.

The air recirculation button is usually used in the summer to help the vehicle become cooler at a quicker rate, with some drivers getting confused between this button and the air conditioning.

A spokesperson for Eden Tyres warned drivers to make sure the button is switched off when it’s cold outside as a general rule.

They added: “The air-recirculation button is best to use alongside your AC during warm weather. During cooler weather, it doesn’t have many benefits and can even be detrimental.

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“Some drivers think it makes sense to not have ‘all that cold air coming in’ if they are using heaters in winter. However, it’s best to have your air recirculation turned off.”

The button traps humidity in the car, which can result in misted windscreens, especially when the air is cold outside and in wet weather.

The freezing weather and snow in December resulted in the busiest day of 2022 for breakdowns and motor accidents reported.

Rebecca Davidson, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said they were ready to assist their customers if the treacherous conditions lead to a spike in claims this week.

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She added that the best way for people to keep safe and avoid disruption is to be aware of the conditions when driving and make reasonable adjustments. 

Driving in icy and snowy weather impacts visibility, increases stopping times and reduces control of the vehicle, and compacted snow and black ice can cause unseen traps which can lead to serious injury. 

Rebecca Davidson continued, issuing a warning to those in the Midlands or North of England, saying: “Our advice is to check the weather conditions and forecast first as it may be safer to postpone your journey. 

“If you do need to drive, leave plenty of travel time. There’s a risk that some isolated rural communities could be cut off so we’re advising people to plan their route to remain on main roads as much as possible.”

Drivers are urged to prepare for freezing weather and ensure they have a kit of vital supplies in the event of an emergency.

This could include a winter-ready screen wash, de-icer and an ice scraper, as well as packing some spare warm clothes, a blanket, a charged phone and torch, and some water and snacks.

When on the road, drivers should consider the conditions and leave more space than they usually would between fellow road users.

Brake and accelerate as smoothly as possible, as this will reduce wheel spin or drifting, keeping the driver, passengers and other road users safe.

Davidson added: “As a campaigner for rural road safety, NFU Mutual is particularly concerned that the heavy snow will make our rural roads even more treacherous. 

“Road users are already significantly more likely to lose their lives or suffer serious injuries on rural routes, so it is more important than ever in severe weather that motorists show respect, take their journey steadily and make sure they are slowing down well before junctions and corners.” 

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