With winter approaching, and the roads getting slippery, it’s a good idea to be prepared for those harsh weather conditions ahead, and know how to deal with them when driving. Here’s some tips to keep you safe on the roads this winter.
Do you need to drive?
If you’re thinking of driving, ask yourself first whether it’s worth the chance of getting stranded or worse, risking an accident. Consider whether your drive is really that necessary or urgent. Can you walk? Can it wait? How important is your journey?
If you decide to drive, plan your route first. A bag of supplies will also come in handy should your journey go ‘off-course’, packing food and water, a first aid kit, fully charged mobile phone, warm clothing, blanket, jump leads, shovel, an ice scraper or de-icing fluid, and some grit, sand, or cat litter.
A full tank of fuel before setting off will allow you to you keep the engine running to stay warm should you get stuck in a queue. In this situation, get out of the vehicle regularly to clear any snow from your exhaust pipe, to avoid the build up of carbon monoxide, which could potentially be fatal.
Check your tyre tread depths have at least 3mm of tread. Better still, a set of winter tyres will enhance grip and traction. Don’t forget to check your fluid levels too, and ensure all parts of your car are cleared of ice and snow.
In snow, ensure your headlights are on and dipped. Keep these on even when it’s not snowing, as snow clouds can reduce light levels. Make sure you are not using your fog lamps, as not to blind other road users, unless visibility is particularly bad.
Using the right technique
When driving on ice, use all of the controls, with a smooth, slow, and progressive technique. Abrupt changes could cause your vehicle to slip, skid, and your wheels to spin, or get stuck before you’ve gone anywhere, as can sudden manoeuvres, unbalancing the car.
If your car does skid, remove your foot from the accelerator, letting the speed drop until you regain control – using brakes will prolong the skid. If you find the car spinning, steer into the direction of the spin, so as the car can straighten up.
Take your surroundings onboard
Drive carefully and use logic at all times – if there’s a corner coming up, slow down; if you find yourself behind a snowplough and you’re thinking of overtaking, the road ahead is likely to still be covered in snow; beware of another vehicle skidding or slipping; concentrate on your own driving rather than what the driver behind you might be doing.
Remember, too, that it can take up to ten times as long to stop on an icy road. Ensure there is plenty of distance between you and the car ahead, increasing your distance to that of a dry day, with about 20 seconds between you.
With all of this, and a little common sense, you should be good to go, and can enjoy a safe winter on the roads. For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch, we’re always happy to help.