Winter Driving Guide
With the clocks going back at the end of the month and winter just around the corner, it is important that we are prepared for the change in conditions.
Driving in the winter can be extremely hazardous, with road conditions often a challenge. In the UK, most of us will be out of practice when it comes to driving with these hazards. This is why we have prepared a guide to cover some helpful advice to ensure your saftey when on the road with the potential snow, ice, high winds, rain or floods.
It is a good idea that you have your vehicle fully prepared for the winter conditions. Ideally this would include a full service before winter starts and have the anti-freeze tested. If not, you can still do your own checks of the vehicle. We suggest the below checklist to ensure:
- Lights are clean and working correctly
- Battery is fully charged
- Ignition works without any issues
- Windscreen and windows are clean
- Windscreen wipers are fully functioning
- Fluids are topped up - windscreen wash, anti-freeze and oil
We have broken down some of these items in more detail for you with some helpful advice and tips for each:
In winter conditions it is vital that your tyres are in the best working condition possible. In addition to checking there general condition it is important that they have plenty of tread depth. The legal limit for tread depth is 1.6mm, however we suggest you consider replacing them before they reach this. Having tyres that are well maintained ensures that stopping distances on wet and slippery roads are optimal.
Windscreen, windows and mirrors
It is important to be aware of your vehicles visbility during winter. As such it is a good idea to ensure the windscreen, windows and mirrors of your vehicle remains clean - removing any ice or snow prior to a journey. It is also a good idea to ensure you have a good stock of de-icer, windscreen wash.
With shorter days and the possibility of weather like fog it is obviously important that your lights are clear during the winter months. It is therefore vital to check them regularly during these conditions, as they can also get dirty very quick with all the spray. It is also a good idea to check that the bulbs are working to their full ability regularly.
It is important that you as the driver prepare for the journey ahead of you. It is also key that you are prepared yourself, as it may be the first time that you are driving in these conditions for many months. In case this is the case we have prepared a few points for you to be aware of:
Before you set off on any journey during this season, it is good to ensure you are fully prepared. There are a few suggestions that we have listed out for your attention below to cosnider before heading out on the road.
- Consider if the journey is essential.
- Plan your route well in advance of the journey, allowing extra time.
- Listen to weather broadcasts in the areas you will be driving through.
- Make someone aware where you are going and your expected arrival time.
Before setting out it is important to consider adjusting our driving style for the weather conditions we will be faced with. We have collated a few tips for driving in different circumstances for you below.
Rain inhibits your ability to see when behind the wheel - it also increases the distance required to slow your vehicle to a stop. You will need to ensure that you leave yourself twice the normal breaking distance in these conditions. It makes a lot of sense to ensure we all drive slower in general when there is rain on the roads.
It is possible that you can lose grip when driving into surface water if you are going to fast. This will cause your vehicle to aquaplane. If you find this happening it is key to take your foot off the accelerator to slow down. Do not brake or steer as this will lead to further lack of control.
When driving in strong winds it is important to consider not just your vehicle, but others around you. In windy weather you should look out for other motorists. In particular you should look out for high-sided vehicles but other vehicles including cars, a cyclist, a motorcyclist or horse rider can be blown off course from heavy winds.
Before driving through a flooded area it is worth considering if there is an alternative route. It would not be advisable to cross water if you are not sure of its depth or if the water seems too deep. If you decide that it okay to drive through, avoid the deepest water - this is usually near the kerb. Drive slowly in the first gear whilst keeping your revs high. Once you are out of the water, you should test your brakes to ensure they are still working optimially.
Fog is one of the most dangerous conditions to drive in with great ability to impair yours and other drivers vision on the road. Only drive in heavy fog when it is an absolute neccesary. If you must drive then do ensure that you have followed our vehicle checklist. Much of the same tips as driving in rain applies here too - follow your local weather forceasts, drive at a reduced and allow plenty of extra time for your journey.
Ice And Snow
Before driving in conditions where it has, or currently is snowing be very cautious of ice and snow. This includes checking your vehicle to ensure that snow and ice is removed, this is to make sure neither will fall down and obstruct your view during the journey. When you can no longer hear tyre noise it is a good indication that you are driving on ice. Drive at a reduced speed. If your vehicle starts to skid then depress the clutch and steer into the skid. Do not brake - as you will lose further control of your vehicle.