20th November 2018
Our Tips for Driving Safely this Winter
Winter is coming.
(Okay, calm down Jon Snow.)
Us Brits aren’t very well-equipped to deal with adverse weather. We all know that as soon as one snowflake falls from the sky, the country subsequently grinds to a halt.
Even the most seasoned of drivers can find themselves rattled by certain driving conditions (like snow, heavy rain and fog), so we’ve put together our top tips for driving safely when the weather turns this winter:
No.1: Take your time
We know this goes without saying, but there is no need to speed in adverse weather conditions.
Driving cautiously and carefully will give you the best chance of recognising and reacting to any potential hazards that may arise. Take care on corners, and reduce your speed further if your vision becomes obscured. If you need any further information, check out this guide from Brake, the road safety charity.
Naturally, it’s best to allow extra time for winter journeys – if you’re running late, it’s better to accept that you’re going to be late instead of rushing and potentially getting into an accident.
No.2: Check your battery
Winter can take its toll on your vehicle’s battery – meaning that it is more likely to die when you’re least expecting it.
For your own peace of mind, it’s best to check your battery before the weather turns – this will give you plenty of time to contact your local garage and rectify any problems. Car batteries usually last around five years, so if you suspect that yours is struggling, we’d recommend booking your vehicle into your local garage and get it checked.
No.3: Look at your tread
Legally, tyres should have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre. However, we would recommend maintaining a minimum tread depth of at least 3mm. During the winter months, it may be beneficial to consider putting all-weather or winter tyres on your vehicle if it’s necessary for you to travel. These tyres are made of a specialised rubber that is designed to grip roads better in colder conditions.
Research has shown that only 3% of drivers in the UK own two sets of tyres to cope with the cold weather – so it’s understandable if you’re apprehensive about making the investment. Check out our guide if you need some more convincing.
No.4: Use your lights
This is another one that goes without saying – you should be using your lights anyway. Nowadays, most cars will have their sidelights on automatically, but you should be naturally putting your fog lights on when it’s foggy, and turning on your full headlights when it starts getting dark. As the clocks in the UK are turned back an hour every October, the darker evenings mean you’ll need to use your full lights much earlier than throughout the summer months.
No.5: Pack for an emergency
Should the worst happen and you become stranded in the event of inclement weather, it’s best to pack some emergency resources. Make sure you have a fully-charged mobile phone to hand, a change of clothes and a way of keeping warm. Least by doing this, you are able to look after yourself until help arrives – or the conditions improve.
No.6: Maintain safe distances
In the snow and ice, stopping distances can be up to ten times greater than stopping in the rain. So, it almost goes without saying that (like speed) there is no need to get in someone else’s space if you’re driving in less than ideal conditions.
If you’re too close to another vehicle in the snow, you are putting yourself (and others) at avoidable risks – so plan your manoeuvres in plenty of time and avoid driving erratically.
No.7: Don’t panic
This may be easier said than done, but if you do run into trouble, the worst thing you can do is panic. Stay with your vehicle and call your breakdown provider, and stay in your vehicle until safety arrives.
The second worst thing you can do is abandon your vehicle (unless it is unsafe to remain with it. For example, if you break down in a poorly lit area of the motorway) – this can put both you and your vehicle at risk, and can potentially hold up rescue vehicles from coming to your aid.
No.8: Avoid driving (if you can)
For some, driving during severe weather is avoidable, and should only be undertaken if absolutely necessary. During periods of bad weather, it may be beneficial to consider utilising local public transport (if the services are available). If this is unattainable for you, perhaps consider talking to your employer to determine if other measures can be put in place so you can bypass driving in bad weather, while still completing your work.