Winter driving can be dangerous if the right steps are not taken to ensure your journey is safe in snow/icy conditions. We've put together some useful hints and tips to help you.
- Allow yourself more time; Everything takes that little bit longer in winter weather so give yourself 10 to 15 minutes longer than usual to get your vehicle started and defrosted, again allow extra time for your journey. Plan your journey with more care, taking note of the conditions, weather reports and traffic updates.
Whilst driving in snow/icy conditions allow yourself greater breaking distances and keep the speed down. In snow pull away slowly and in second gear to avoid your wheels spinning. Keep your gear and lane changes smooth;
- Be prepared; You want to be prepared in case of a breakdown by having warm clothes, boots, a high visibility jacket, a torch, phone charger, first aid kit and making sure all the spare items necessary for your vehicle are in place. You should also include a shovel to clear the snow and old rug or other item that could be used for your tyres to grip if stuck.
- Give your car some TLC; Winter driving means you need to take more care of your vehicle, doing this will reduce the likelihood of a breakdown. Check your tyres are not too worn and don’t fall for the myth of keeping them under-inflated as it does not mean more grip. It’s vital that you can see and be seen so keep your headlights clean by cleaning them daily. Washing your vehicle regularly will help to stop the build-up of potentially damaging salt or other deposits. Check all your light bulbs daily and replace any faulty ones.
Does your car need an MOT? Follow this link to the Council's MOT service
- Give yourself visibility; It is illegal to drive without a clear windscreen, you should ensure that your vehicle is clear of all loose snow (bonnet, windscreen, roof, rear window and boot) a soft brush is ideal for clearing loose snow. It is better to use warm water to clear frozen locks than boiling water (do not attempt to clear the windscreen with hot water).
- Check your vehicle's anti-freeze; Using anti-freeze will save you time and money in the long run as it stops the engine coolant from freezing which could prevent a seized engine. Check your handbook or dealership to make sure you are using the right type.
- Remember parts that can freeze; If windscreen wipers or washer pumps are frozen and you attempt to use them you could run the risk of blowing a fuse. Proper use of screenwashes suitable for low temperatures will help prevent this.
- Keep your battery charged; The car battery comes under extra pressure during winter as it powers more appliances for longer. If your battery is older than five years then consider getting it replaced. If it is older than three years then get it tested. Don’t make unnecessary demands upon it by using too many things before the engine has started.
Finally...when driving on ungritted roads try not to follow exactly the tracks of the car in front, as when the snow gets compacted it can ice up making it more slippery. For road surface information during bouts of serious weather become an @bathnes Twitter follower.