AS the first frosts of the winter take hold North Yorkshire Police are launching their annual road safety campaign and are warning motorists to expect stop-checks and extra road policing patrols across parts of the Dales.
Officers are concentrating on winter safety, and will keep up the intensive operation into the New Year. Stop-checks on different roads across the force's Eastern area - encompassing the Hambleton district of the Yorkshire Dales - will be carried at least five times every week with a particular emphasis on morning checks as a deterrent to "morning after" drink-drivers.
...take the simple precautions that could just mean the difference between a happy and a tragic Christmas this year
Sergeant Paul Stephenson - North Yorkshire Police
Sergeant Paul Stephenson of the county's road policing group said: "Our emphasis will be on education, but drivers and riders should be quite clear that we will take firm action when necessary."
Sgt Stephenson said the stop-checks would include a strong advice element with experienced officers offering drivers advice on seatbelts, use of mobile phones on the road, and the equipment to carry if there is a danger of being stranded by ice or snow.
"We will also talk drivers through the safest way to use lights," he said.
"At this time of year you don't just see people driving with badly-adjusted lights, you see people using their lights inappropriately - not using them when it is dark, dazzling other drivers by "helpfully" flashing headlights, or using foglights as a fashion accessory.
"It is not only an offence to use foglights - front or rear - when the visibility is more than 100 metres, it is extremely dangerous in terms of reducing other road-users' visibility. Foglights are for thick fog, not for demonstrating how well-equipped your car is."
Main areas that road police officers will be checking include:
Tyres - have they a good tread and are they properly inflated
Lights - do they work and are they properly adjusted. Brake lights and indicators will also be checked
Windscreen wipers - do they work and are the blades in good order
Screen washer - working and full? Police recommend a dash of winter wash fluid to stop the bottle freezing
Windows - need to be clean and have no cracks
The horn must work
Sgt Stephenson continued: "It is only common sense to look after your vehicle, and never more so than at this time of year. The nights are closing in, it is the season for mist and fog, and the erratic weather can quickly bring falls of slippery leaves or standing water to our roads, to be followed by the ice and snow that can make North Yorkshire a hazardous place for the unprepared driver or rider.
"We are going out there to spread a message of vehicle care and safe driving with the aim of cutting road casualties, but I would like to think that all drivers and riders on North Yorkshire's roads will take our message on board and take the simple precautions that could just mean the difference between a happy and a tragic Christmas this year."