Winter Driving Tips
As the colder months set in and the weather takes a turn, decreasing temperatures and bouts of snow and heavy rainfall are predicted to hit towns and cities across the nation. Should you be required to drive in such adverse weather conditions, it’s important that all necessary precautions are taken in order to ensure your own safety, and the safety of those around you.
We’ve compiled a short list of winter driving tips which, if adopted, will help you to avoid becoming involved in an accident on the road.
Preparation is key when it comes to staying safe on winter roads. In order to reduce the risk and dangers associated with winter driving, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself and your vehicle before you commence your journey.
Get your vehicle checked
Taking preventative measures such as having your car checked by a qualified mechanic or approved repair facility before you hit the road will help to reduce the risk of breakdown whilst you’re out and about.
Check the weather ahead of your trip
With modern-day technology, weather reports are more accurate than ever. Before you make your trip, it’s a good idea to check the weather forecast, not only for your current location but also for the location you’re headed to, particularly if your journey is to be a long-distance one. This will allow you to see if any bad weather is likely to affect your trip and, if so, make adjustments to your plans – you might decide to set off earlier in order to ensure your estimated arrival time is met or, if the weather is set to be really bad, you might decide to cancel your plans altogether and rearrange them for a time when the roads may be less hazardous.
Pack a bag
Although it’s unlikely that you will be forced to wait for hours for a tow truck or vehicle repair service following a breakdown, it never hurts to be prepared! Consider putting together a pack of essentials to keep in your car at all times, just in case. Your pack might include blankets, food and water, warm clothing, a torch, a glass scraper, a small shovel and any medication you’re currently taking. This way, the pressure is alleviated slightly should you find yourself in unfortunate circumstances.
Check your tyres
When driving in poor conditions, it’s important that your tyres are properly inflated and have plenty of tread. Consult your vehicle handbook for guidance on setting up the correct tyre pressure for your car, and consider visiting your local garage to have the tread checked on your tyres on a regular basis.
Keep your fuel topped up
It’s always a good idea to keep your fuel tank topped up to ensure optimum performance for your vehicle, but in winter especially you should try not to let your fuel gauge dip below the half-way mark.
Cut the cruise control
Automated features within vehicles, such as cruise control, do not always make allowances for poor driving conditions, particularly in extreme circumstances. Maintain control of your vehicle and be sure to switch cruise control off when the road surfaces are slippery.
Staying alert and driving with caution will allow you the extra time you may need to react to a hazard on the road. When the weather is bad, it’s always best to exercise caution.
If you don’t need to drive, don’t!
If it’s not absolutely paramount that you drive, simply stay at home. Even if you handle poor weather well, it’s always best to avoid taking any unnecessary risks.
Stay back and take it slow
You should be conscious of your speed at any time of the year, but winter is the season when speeding or reckless driving could lead to more damaging or even fatal collisions. At this time of year, it’s particularly important to drive with consideration of others. Take things slowly, especially when driving on snow or ice, and be mindful to keep a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front – if they stop or swerve, you need to have enough reaction time to do the same.
When there’s snow or ice on the road, it’s a bad time to be rushing. Rushing leads to reckless driving, which can lead to road traffic accidents. Be sure to set off early to allow yourself plenty of time to complete your journey, including time for any stops you may need to make along the way. It’s also important to remember to accelerate and decelerate slowly – erratic driving and poor conditions don’t mix well!
Take care on hills
When driving in adverse weather conditions, try not to stop if you can avoid it, particularly if you’re travelling uphill. It’s also important not to press excessively hard on the accelerator when travelling uphill, as this can cause your wheels to spin and you could lose control of your vehicle.
If you’re stuck
If you do end up becoming stuck in the snow, be sure to follow these top tips:
Stay with your vehicle
As well as providing a temporary shelter for you and any fellow travellers, your vehicle also acts as a great marker – staying with your vehicle will make it easier for any rescuers to locate you.
Don’t overexert yourself
If you need to dig your vehicle out of deep snow, remember to listen to your own body and stop when you become tired.
It’s a good idea to tie a bright piece of fabric to your antenna or to fix it in place in one of your windows as this will enable you to give your rescuers a clear indication of what they should be looking for. At night, consider keeping the lights inside your car switched on, as this only uses a small amount of electricity and will also help rescuers to spot you in the dark.
Clear the exhaust pipe
Check that the exhaust pipe is not blocked with snow, ice or mud, as this can cause carbon monoxide to leak through into the glove compartment of the vehicle whilst the engine is running. If your exhaust pipe is blocked, try your best to remove the blockage as soon as possible.
If it’s possible, try to turn the engine and heater off after they’ve done the job of removing the chill in the car, as this will help to conserve your fuel.
Have you been involved in a road traffic accident, or are you facing the loss of your license following a road traffic offence? The expert solicitors at DRN can help!