Winter Driving Tips. Interior view from the inside of a car looking out onto a winter scene of a motorway

Winter Driving Tips

Driving in winter is very different to other times of the year, bad weather conditions and longer periods of darkness can make even familiar roads treacherous and unpredictable.

When planning on driving in adverse conditions listen to the weather warnings and ask yourself if your trip is really necessary.

If travel is unavoidable, ensure everything on your car is in good working order, especially your tyres, lights and windscreen wipers. Keep a full tank of fuel and emergency kit in the car in case of accidents, breakdowns or jams.

Before setting off make sure all internal glass surfaces on your car are clear of mist and externally clear of ice and snow. It is illegal and dangerous to drive if visibility is impeded.

Always put safety before punctuality and leave plenty of time for your journey. Get your speed right to maintain the correct stopping distances between vehicles.

Remember your journey can contain many micro climates so always beware of the weather and driving conditions.

Here are a few tips to driving safe in our changeable weather;

Heavy rain:

Use the windscreen wipers to aid visibility.

Reduce speed to avoid aquaplaning. Should you find the car sliding, ease off the accelerator and brake until your speed drops sufficiently for the car tyres to make contact with the road again.

Remember you need twice the braking distance to slow down and stop.

Do not attempt to drive through deep or fast flowing flood water.

Remember to test your brakes after driving through water.

Snow & Ice:

If you start to skid when driving in snow or icy conditions, don’t panic, reduce your speed, apply the brakes slowly and smoothly, release and de-clutch, keeping the wheels pointing towards where you want to go and allowing your speed to fall.

Remember you need up to ten times the braking distance to slow down and stop.

When driving downhill, reduce speed, keep in a low gear and avoid using the brakes.

When driving uphill, choose a suitable gear in advance, keep at a constant speed and avoid stopping.

If stuck in a rut, move the vehicle slowly backwards and forwards using the highest gear you can. Do not rev your engine as this will make matters worse.

If you are truly stuck, do not leave the vehicle, switch off the engine and call your breakdown service for help.

The biggest danger is “black ice”, not really black but transparent and invisible. It forms most commonly when the temperature is at their coldest. It forms readily on Bridges and on parts of the road where the sun doesn’t shine such as under overpasses as they are normally the first to freeze and the last to thaw.

Fog:

In gloomy conditions reduce your speed and always use dipped headlights, never use full beams in fog as it reflects light back.

Put your fog lights on if visibility drops below 100 meters.

If visibility is very poor, it is advisable to approach junctions and crossroads slowly and wind down your window to enable you to listen out for approaching traffic, however; if you really cannot see, you should consider pulling over and stopping until it is safe to continue your journey.

Strong winds:

Reduce your speed.

Avoid driving a high sided vehicle.

Keep tight control of the steering wheel.

Take extra care on bridges and exposed roads.

Low sunshine:

Reduce your speed

Ensure your windscreen is clean and streak free inside and out

Have a pair of sunglasses to hand

For further information:

http://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/winter-driving

http://www.rospa.com/road-safety/advice/drivers/better-driving/winter-tips/