10 Tips For Safer Winter Driving

10 Tips For Safer Winter Driving
© Provided by Motoring Research

From: Motoring Research

Shorter days and colder temperatures, not to mention heavy rain, snow, ice, fog and low sun. Is it any wonder that driving in winter is more hazardous?

However, while you can’t predict the weather, you can take sensible steps to improve safety on the road, from checking your car thoroughly to how you drive it.

We’ve put together 10 tips for safer winter driving. But first, let’s look at getting prepared.

Before you set off

There are seven key things to check on your car before driving in winter, especially if you are travelling a long distance. Work through this list before you set off.

Battery: The car battery needs to work harder during the winter, so ensure it is regularly serviced.

Tyres: Make sure there is at least 2mm of tread depth on the tyres, preferably more. Consider investing in winter tyres, which are more effective in cold weather, not just in the snow.

Cooling system: Add anti-freeze into your cooling system, but remember to use the appropriate strength of formula.

Wipers and washers: Use high-strength screen wash and replace damaged or faulty wiper blades. Never use the wipers to clear ice from the windscreen.

Defrosting: Do not pour boiling water onto the windscreen – it may crack. Instead, use an ice scraper and/or a can of de-icer. Remember to clear all areas of glass, including the door mirrors and lights.

Lights: Check that all lights are working, including fog lights and reversing lights.

Roof and windows: Clear all snow and ice from the roof and windows before setting off.

1. High gear, low revs

Use a higher gear when setting off as this will give you greater control of the vehicle. In slippery conditions, avoid using first gear if possible.

2. Take your time

When driving in snow, avoid high revs, but don’t drive so slowly that you risk losing momentum. Keep going, as this could be the difference between making it home or skidding to a halt. Remember, if you’re stuck, the chances are other drivers will be too, so you’re unlikely to receive help.

3. Skidding

If you get into a skid in snow or on ice, take your feet off the pedals and steer to safety. Only use the brakes when you’re unable to steer away from trouble.

4. Braking

Triple your braking distance and maintain a sufficient gap between you and the car in front. Any sudden movements – such as erratic steering or braking – are likely to result in the car careering out of control. Use a lower gear than normal and gently apply the brakes.

5. Stick to main roads

Keep to the main A-roads and motorways when possible, as these are more likely to have been treated with salt and cleared by a steady flow of traffic. There’s also a greater chance of help arriving should you breakdown or get stuck in a snow drift.

Avoid unlit rural roads, as there’s a risk that you or your stranded car could be hit by another vehicle. It’s also worth remembering when you last passed a house or shop, in case you need to find help.

Read More: What Is Ideal Tire Pressure in Cold Weather?

6. Visibility

Use dipped headlights in the snow, but remember to turn them off when conditions improve.

7. Potholes

Potholes are more likely to appear after freezing temperatures or a flood. It will be difficult to spot them at night, in snow or when the roads are covered in water, so drive with extra care.

Not only can a pothole cause damage to a car’s wheels, suspension or steering, you may also lose control of the vehicle.

8. Fog

In foggy conditions, reduce your speed but don’t slam on the brakes. Keep your distance to the car in front and don’t rely on them to guide you through a dense fog patch. Use dipped headlights and fog lights, but remember to switch them off when conditions improve.

It’s also important to remember that LED daytime running lights are unsuitable for driving in fog or at night. If you have automatic lights, make sure they’re switched on when driving in fog.

9. Flood water

Avoid driving directly through the deepest water, which is normally near the kerb. Stick to the centre of the road, but look out for debris and potholes beneath the surface. If in doubt, don’t drive through flood water – seek an alternative route.

If you do drive through, take your time, avoid sudden acceleration and test your brakes when you’ve made it through the water.

10. Be prepared for a breakdown

If extreme weather is forecast, it’s worth packing for every eventuality. Should the worst happen, it’ll take longer for the breakdown service or emergency vehicle to reach you, so you could be left in the car or stranded by the road for a prolonged period of time. Before you set off in the snow, pack warm clothing, blankets and basic nourishment.

While a winter driving safety pack might seem extreme, you’ll be glad of it should you run into trouble. We’d recommend carrying the following items: high visibility jacket, torch, warning triangle, spare tyre, first aid kit, de-icer, screen wash, jump leads and sunglasses (for the low winter sun).

See more at Motoring Research


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Autos Magazine: 10 Tips For Safer Winter Driving
10 Tips For Safer Winter Driving
Follow our advice for safer winter driving, including how to prepare your car, plus how to drive in rain, snow and other adverse conditions.
Autos Magazine
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