Top Winter Driving Tips
It was February 2018, and Norfolk was gripped by a weather event that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the middle of Alaska. Buckets of snow fell overnight, and commuters woke up to what amounted to a horror show for drivers, with those brave enough to venture out finding their journey took them three times as long, with most choosing to stay home and not risk it. While we haven’t yet been afflicted with such conditions, this week saw the first morning frost of the winter, meaning it’s probably time to brush up on your winter driving know-how now in case you need it further down the line! Conditions in winter can throw up many dangers and hazards for drivers, so we’ve compiled our top winter driving tips below to ensure you have a safe journey no matter where you’re off to this winter.
Check your tyres
When driving in cold, wet, wintery conditions, its important that your tyres are in optimum condition to handle the potential hazards of the road, including ice and slippery snow. The AA recommends at least 3mm of tread for the winter, and it’s really important to ensure your tyres are properly inflated – don’t be tempted to let some air out to achieve better grip as this does not work and could be extremely dangerous in very icy conditions.
Keep a cold-weather kit in your car
If you’ve got a long journey ahead of you in cold, wintery conditions, it makes sense to pack some essentials in case the worst were to happen and you get stuck for a period of time. Blankets, extra clothing and medication are all great ideas to pack, as well as anti-freeze, an ice-scraper, some non-perishable food items and a torch. If you want to be as prepared as possible, potentially think about including some rope in case your car were to veer off the road and you need to tow it back on, and an external USB smartphone charger to ensure you stay connected if an accident were to happen.
Keep it slow and keep a distance
While everyone who’s travelling wants to get to their destination as quickly as possible, as a rule when driving in wintery conditions you should just slow down. Even if it feels like you’re travelling at a crawl, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Not only does driving slowly reduce the risk of skids or ending up off the road, but it will also allow other road users longer to see and acknowledge you and thereby reduce the risk of crashes in conditions of poor visibility. Make sure, in conditions of heavy traffic, you keep at least 3-4 car lengths between you and the vehicle in front, so if they end up braking suddenly, you have some time to react and avoid an altercation.
Stock up on anti-freeze
If it’s been a while since your car has been serviced, you might want to have your anti-freeze levels checked. Without anti-freeze, in conditions of extreme cold, your engine might warp or crack after a cold night due to the sudden onset of heat. Engine repairs are pricey, so avoid the potential stress and have your mechanic give your vehicle the once over if you’re worried!
Keep your windscreen clean
In winter, with the roads covered in grit and wet weather making the ground muddy and moist, windscreens get dirtier much quicker. It is of paramount importance to stay vigilant about cleaning it. In conditions where visibility is poor, perhaps in heavy fog or snow, a dirty windscreen could impair your vision and make you miss potential hazards. It sounds like a small, silly thing to consider, but if you’re unable to properly focus on the road in front of you due to splodges of dirt and grit, you’re all the more likely to suffer an accident, and, after all, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Regularly wipe off number plates and lights
In the same way that gunk can build up on the windscreen, it can do so all the more on lights and number plates. Obscured brake lights can be lethal in icy conditions, causing collisions and accidents where drivers can’t see the driver in front braking. Drivers also have a legal responsibility to ensure their number plates and lights are in good working order, which includes that they’re visible, so make sure to check on a daily basis that they are fully unobscured!