Winter is – like it or not – upon us. We are already into night-time and morning frosts and if popular rumours do come true, it looks like we could be seeing more than our fair-share of snow this season.
Unfortunately, not many of us are in a position to put our lives on hold when the bad weather sets in; we have to keep motoring to conduct our daily business. What we can do, however, is plan in advance and make sure that we have done all we can to limit any motoring problems that could have been avoided with a little forethought.
To make things a little easier for you, have listed our Top 10 Safe Winter Driving Tips – in addition, we have prepared a handy downloadable PDF checklist:
1. Prepare your Car
This may seem obvious, but it is important that you check that your car is good for the conditions that lie ahead. Check that your services are up to date, your lights are all good, your wipers are sound, your tyres have a decent tread and that the tyre pressure is correct; it may also be worth seeing if there are any winter tyre deals out there, too, if you are in the market for some new ones. Check that you have anti-freeze in your windscreen washer and that you have a bottle to hand inside the vehicle itself. Always keep a first aid kit, warning triangle, spare boots, blankets, torch and if possible, a spade in the car.
2. Plan Journeys Carefully
If you absolutely have to brave the bad weather, make sure you are fully prepared for every eventuality. Make sure you know the route (check traffic information prior to your journey) and be sure to check the weather status before you set off. In addition, always tell whoever you are due to reach what time they should expect you before setting out. Always take some food and drink with you too, just in case (especially if children are in the car!).
3. Driving in Ice and Slush
Remember that hazardous conditions need a different driving approach; always use the highest gear possible (keep the revs down), leave extra time for braking and take your time. Brake using a lower gear than you would usually use and if you find yourself skidding, take your foot off the gas – whatever you do, don’t brake sharply.
4. Driving in Fog
Fog is a very tricky road condition and can come along in patches – when you find yourself unable to see very far, slow right down, dip your beam and remember to switch your fog-lights on. Maintain a steady pace and focus on the road rather than the car in front!
5. Driving in Persistent Rain
Two main rules to remember here – take it slowly and keep your distance. Not only will you have severely limited visibility when it is raining heavily, your brakes will be around half as responsive compared to when the weather is dry.
6. Flooded Roads
Flooding is a common hazard that needs careful negotiation. If you have no choice but to cross shallow water remember to take it easy and keep in first gear. Drive through the middle of the flood patch as the deepest water tends to stay near to the roadside. Obviously, it is best to avoid this situation if you possibly can and find an alternative way to your destination.
7. Dealing with the Winter Sun
This may sound strange but keep your sunnies handy – when the sun does make an appearance, in the winter, it can be pretty dangerous. Protect yourself from any potential glares by keeping your sunglasses nearby and make sure your sun visor works!
8. Other Winter Road Hazards
Watch out for snow ploughs and salt-spreading vehicles – they may be slow and they may well spread a bit of debris while they do their job (but a job it is, and one we are all grateful of when it is done properly!). Be patient and keep your distance until you reach your destination. In addition, watch out for Winter Road-works and stick to the speed limit when you come across any.
9. Breaking Down on the Motorway
Don’t panic – try and make a telephone call if you break down for assistance but only when you are stationary. Try to use one of the special emergency telephones so that the rescue services will be able to find you easily (if possible) and make sure your car is parked safely.
10. If the Worst Does Happen…
Keep all occupants warm, dry and – above all – safe; don’t abandon your car or leave it in a precarious position. If you break down in a dangerous spot, consider moving the occupants to a safer area until help arrives; you’ll be glad of those spare boots and blankets if you find yourself in this situation!
Life is busy and it is all too easy to forget all about planning for winter; we only usually get reminded when we find ourselves in a situation and wish we had made the time to make sure our vehicles were properly prepared to cope with the bad weather.
This is the first year that I, personally, will be commuting and regularly taking my two young children around with me in the bad weather. My car is booked in for a service next week and I am packing up my emergency kit later on this evening.
If I can do it, anyone can.
FREE WINTER MOTORING CHECK-LIST
Compass Contract Hire Limited and the team at Motor Mistress Limited feel so strongly about this important issue that we have prepared a free of charge PDF check-sheet for you to download; Click Here for your copy or email firstname.lastname@example.org.