Winter driving: Be Prepared!

It’s that time of year where expected – or even unexpected – ice and snowfall can catch some motorists out.

PC Sharon Nelson from the Staffordshire Moorlands Local Policing Team, said: “The most important thing is to be prepared and stay safe.

“We all want to get to our destination without mishap or undue delay and just a few small changes to how we prepare ourselves and our vehicles can make a considerable difference when bad weather arrives.

“At the moment it is unseasonably warm which may lull motorists into a false sense of security. However, we will probably get low temperatures, ice and even snow at some point this winter, especially in the Moorlands and other high points, so it’s sensible to think ahead.”

Our top tips for safer driving this winter include:

* Check your vehicle over or to take it to a reputable garage which offers a winter check. Your local press will also have details of events in your area offering this service.

* Check your tyres are in good condition and inflated as recommended by the manufacturer. Legally, they must have a minimum of 3mm tread.

* Ensure the screen wash is topped up and the windscreen wipers in good condition.

* Don’t allow your vehicle to run too low on fuel – no one wants to be left stranded and potentially vulnerable.

* Always clear all snow and ice from your windscreen, side windows and roof of car before driving off. Don’t just clear a small area of your windscreen as your visibility will be impaired – and snow left on the roof may slide on to the windscreen whilst driving.

* Keep a few essentials in your car such as warm clothing, boots or shoes with a good tread, mobile phone charger, snack bars, water, and a collapsible snow shovel.

* If your journey involves driving through different areas of the Staffordshire Moorlands, Stoke-on-Trent or one of our bordering counties, be aware that different areas may have different road gritting policies. This means one area may be clear and another may become extremely hazardous for drivers.

* Allow extra time for your journey so that you don’t feel rushed and to allow for any emergencies.

* Listen to your local radio station which will have updates on the weather and road conditions and also any traffic holdups.

STOP AND THINK: DON’T DRINK OR DRUG DRIVE

A drink and drug driving campaign to target irresponsible and dangerous drivers begins today (Dec 1) in a bid to drive down fatal and serious road traffic collisions and protect other road users.

The national campaign, co-ordinated through the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) will run across the county throughout December.

Insp Mat Derrick, from the force’s tactical support department, said: “We always carry out tests throughout the year on anyone involved in a road traffic collision that we attend or anyone who is suspected of drink or drug driving.

“During this campaign we will also be generally stopping motorists and carrying out tests. These operations will not just be at night, they will also be run in the mornings and throughout the day. Mistakenly people think after a night of drinking or using drugs that if they have slept or have eaten they are fit to drive. If you drink or drug and drive then there is a high likelihood that you will be caught.”

As part of the campaign people are encouraged to view a hard-hitting video on the force’s YouTube channel http://youtu.be/n-vEGCbVhas of a motorist who narrowly escaped death after driving under the influence of alcohol.

After a night out Harrison King drove at speed through the centre of Uttoxeter, collided into a house and railings, from which a metal pole crashed through his windscreen. A severe wound to the side of his head was one of a catalogue of injuries he suffered, requiring him to be put into an induced coma. He suffered a broken cheekbone, nerve and ear damage making it difficult for him to walk and sleep for a while.

An officer on patrol in the town witnessed the whole incident. PC Jason Hughes saw Harrison speed by just moments before the crash and rescued him from the burning car. He said: “Harrison narrowly missed a van coming in the opposite direction. He was extremely lucky he didn’t lose his life or kill anyone.”

Convicted of drunk driving, Harrison was banned from driving, had to pay court costs and carry out community service.

Coming forward to help discourage anyone from making the same mistake, Harrison said: “Use me as a learning curve. Please don’t take the risk of drinking and driving. A drink is not worth badly injuring or killing someone and putting families through untold misery.”

Insp Derrick continued: “We urge people to ‘Stop & Think’, to plan how they will get home before a night out – whether to not drink, decide on a designated driver, or pre-book a taxi.

“What happened to Harrison was because he hadn’t made those plans. Thankfully he survived and didn’t harm anyone else but the next person to take the wheel under the influence or alcohol or drugs may not be so lucky.

“Drinking or drug driving is not only irresponsible and against the law, the consequences wrecks lives and families. That family could be yours.”

If you have concerns about anyone you believe drives whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs, please contact police on 101. Alternatively, contact the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at

www.crimestoppers-uk.org.

M6 Lorry travelling the wrong way

Two men have received suspended prison sentences and been disqualified from driving after they were caught travelling the wrong way on the M6 Toll in Staffordshire.

Officers from the Central Motorway Police Group (CMPG) were called at around 7.50pm on Sunday 12 July to a report of a white HGV travelling the wrong way on the M6 Toll road.

The vehicle was travelling southbound on the northbound carriageway, near to junction T4.

The vehicle had allegedly been seen speeding and performing U-turns on the carriageway and it was stopped near junction T4 at Weeford near Shenstone.

Two men inside the vehicle were arrested  by CMPG officers and subsequently charged with driving a motor vehicle dangerously.

Both men appeared at Stafford Crown Court on Monday (3 Aug).

Nicusor Paun, aged 34, from Romania, was sentenced to eight months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He was disqualified from driving for two years.

Vasile Radoescu, aged 39, from Romania, was sentenced to four months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He was disqualified from driving for 12 months.

Chief Inspector Jed White, from CMPG, said: “We are committed to keeping the motorway network safe for all and will take appropriate action when motorists are acting dangerously.

“On this occasion these two individuals were clearly putting lives at risk, including their own.

“The sentences imposed by the court are to be welcomed. Although the men did not receive a custodial sentence they have been disqualified from driving and are off the roads.

“We will continue to work closely with our police colleagues across the Midlands region, and Midland Expressway Limited – which runs the M6 Toll, to keep the motorway network as safe as possible.”

James Hodson of Midland Expressway said: “We fully support the sentence imposed by the court for this dangerous behaviour.

 “Midland Expressway is committed to ensuring that the M6 Toll is a safe environment and has a zero tolerance approach to such behaviour. 

 “M6 Toll control room operators continuously monitor the motorway with CCTV cameras and work closely with CMPG to ensure the appropriate response.”