Driving in the UK: An Airman’s guide for safety
By Staff Sgt. Shane Cannon, 48th Operations Support Squadron
/ Published June 24, 2016
ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England -- One of the most dangerous aspects of living in the United Kingdom is driving. The roads are considerably smaller and older than typical roads in the U.S. Bad weather only compounds this problem and creates potentially deadly situations.
Rain storms and flooded roads are the most common weather conditions affecting drivers in the UK, but taking certain preparatory steps and having a solid foundation for how to drive in bad weather situations can reduce your risk and keep you and your family safe.
First, ensure your car is properly prepped for driving in bad weather conditions. Inspect your windshield wipers to make sure they are constantly keeping your field-of-view clear. Any cracks in the rubber are tell-tale signs that it is time to replace your wipers.
Second, ensure your tires are properly inflated and the treads are not worn down. One quick trick to check your tire treads is to insert a penny, Abraham Lincoln’s head first, into the tread of the tire. If the top of Abraham Lincoln’s head is still visible, it may be time to replace your tires. Also, be sure to have an emergency kit in your car. Helpful items include: first aid kit, road flares, a blanket, jumper cables, tow rope, dry food, and water.
A solid knowledge of how to drive in bad weather can greatly reduce your risk level while driving in dangerous conditions. Hydroplaning can occur in speeds as slow as 35 miles per hour. Slowing down at least 5 to 10 miles per hour below the speed limit can greatly reduce your chances of hydroplaning.
If you do find yourself hydroplaning, take your foot off the accelerator, but do not brake to recover from hydroplaning. Sudden braking on a wet road can cause your car to skid out of control. Gently turn your steering wheel in the direction your car is hydroplaning until you feel the tires reconnect with the surface of the road. Additionally, your brakes may become waterlogged and lose effectiveness. Lightly applying the brakes repeatedly will create heat and friction, which will help dry the brakes.
The number-one danger to Airmen stationed in the UK is driving. By properly preparing your car, reducing your speed and knowing what to do in dangerous driving conditions your risk of serious or fatal injuries on the road can be greatly reduced. Summer is a time of excitement and adventure; let’s make sure we all enjoy it safely.