Handy Driving Tips for Winter
Well it’s that time of year again! Time to start thinking of how to keep yourself and others safe on the road during winter. Here are some handy tips to keep you moving this winter:
General Tips for Driving In Winter
It is important to make sure your tyres are at the appropriate pressure and your lights, windscreen and wiper blades are in good condition and well maintained. When travelling on slippery surfaces such as ice, snow, wet or sand you should not use cruise control. Prior to driving, – even if it is for a short journey – you should always check the weather. If the weather is very bad and your trip is not urgent or essential, try to delay it until the weather has improved. If you must leave, let others know where your final destination is, your route and your approximate time of arrival.
Driving In Snowy Conditions
It will take time to slow down. It takes more time on icy and snow-covered roads to do anything from accelerating to stopping or manoeuvring. Nothing happens as quickly as it does in dry conditions. The normal stopping distance in dry conditions is three to four seconds. In winter conditions this more than doubles to eight to ten seconds. Even if you are a good driver in the snow, others may not be.
Leave a safe stopping gap between you and the car in front. Depending on weather conditions this can be up to 10 times the normal distance.
Accelerate gently, and move off in 2nd gear to reduce wheel slip.
If you are driving on a road that has not yet been gritted, be wary of driving in tyre marks made from a car before you. Compressed snow is more likely to become icy than fresh snow, and therefore more dangerous.
Skidding on ice can be a terrifying experience. If you do start skidding don’t panic. Try and steer into the skid smoothly, and avoid slamming your foot on the brakes. For example, if your wheels are skidding out to the right you should gently steer to the right as well.
Driving In Flooded Conditions
If you have to drive through floods, drive slowly using first gear and try to keep the engine revving at a high rate. Move forward continuously to avoid stalling the engine. If driving an automatic vehicle, engage and hold in a low gear. Once you have exited the water test your brakes and mirrors to make sure they are still working properly.
Driving In Foggy Conditions
When driving make sure to drive very slowly using dipped headlights so other drivers can see you coming. If the visibility is less than 100 metres switch your fog lights on and keep a safe distance away from the car in front.
When visibility improves turn your fog lights off to avoid dazzling other drivers however remain a safe distance away from cars in front and try not to speed up as fog can be patchy and you can be in the thick of it again further along the road.
The common theme for driving in winter is to do so with a little more care, giving you enough space and time to react accordingly. We are lucky in the UK as most arterial routes are treated with de-icing salt keeping the risks from snow and ice to a minimum, however all drivers must still tackle some lesser used roads at some point and it is good to know how to stay safe.