Driving in winter can be a tricky business – and it’s hardly surprising that the majority of bumps and scrapes happen during the darker months. Luckily, there are a few things that we could all do when it comes to staying safe out on the road.
How to drive safely on the roads in winter
From dealing with snow and ice to tackling slides and skids, there’s plenty to think about before jumping in your car this winter.
Snow and ice
Stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow – so it’s important to ensure you’re keeping an extra-safe distance from the vehicle in front whenever it’s slippery under foot.
Hills are always a little trickier to master in snowy climates. When moving up hill, try to maintain a constant speed and refrain from slowing down or moving down the gears unless you have to. If moving down a hill, select a low gear and take it easy – remember, your braking distances will be much longer than normal, and going too quick may result in a bump, even if you think you’ve got plenty of room to take evasive action.
Never brake sharply as doing so could result in a skid. Instead, whenever you need to slow things down a little, apply some pressure to the brake carefully and gently.
Slipping and sliding
Skids can be a scary business – but knowing how to handle one could be the difference between staying on the road or bumping into the curb, so it’s important to know what to do if you find your wheels slipping and sliding across the ice.
The skid you’re most likely to face when driving through wintery conditions is called a front wheel skid. Recognising this type of skid is simple – as you’ll notice your vehicle continues to go straight despite the wheel being turned.
Unlike a rear wheel skid, the best way to handle this type of issue is to point your wheels straight ahead as the car skids, while removing your feet from the pedals altogether – thus enabling engine braking to take effect. This should allow the vehicle to regain grip, meaning you can continue on your journey.
The worst thing you can do while your vehicle skids is panic. Doing so will only lead to jolty movements, which may make things worse. So try to remain calm at all times.
Preparation is everything
Making sure your vehicle is prepared for winter is everything, and the last thing we want is for you to sit there shivering on the hard shoulder while you wait for your local mechanic to save the day.
From fitting winter tyres to making sure you have a warm coat stored in the boot at all times, there are plenty of things to consider before the next cold snap – here are just a few of them:
* Check the oil level every two to three weeks.
* Make sure your wiper fluid is always topped up.
* Check your lights before setting off on long journeys.
* Always pack an extra supply of warm clothes and an umbrella in case you break down.
* If you do break down, always put your hazards on and stand somewhere safe, away from the vehicle.
Always make sure you have some de-icer stored in your car – an ice scraper might be a good idea too.