Winter driving conditions are, for most people, the most difficult to drive in but as with everything driving related it doesn’t have to be that way. The simple answer to any winter drive is preparation. Be prepared before you set off on your journey! So what do we mean?
Firstly make sure your car is well maintained, with regular services throughout the year. Many garages also provide free winter car checks too so make the most of this service. They will check brakes, tyres, lights, fluids etc. Of course checking these only in November for example isn’t enough so do this regularly throughout the season. Familiarise yourself with your vehicle so you can also do these checks yourself. Buy yourself a reliable tyre pressure gauge, buy yourself some antifreeze etc etc.
Poor Weather Conditions
Making sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving is just a part of the story before off on a journey. You also need to get yourself prepared! Ensure you plan your journey before setting off. Make sure you are a member of one of the breakdown services. The AA or RAC (other services are available) fo some great introductory offers and who knows if you may need their services. Buy some supplies for the trip. Make sure you have drinking water and snacks. What if there is an accident on the road or the road is shut due to poor weather conditions? Are you prepared to be a lot longer in the car than you anticipated.
Make sure you also have a warm top and waterproofs. This is something a lot of drivers forget to do, but remember what you need to do if you car breaks down or are involved in an accident. You need to exit your vehicle (via the passenger door, especially on busy roads as exiting on the drivers side you are likely to be dragged into the road by the wind draft of fast loving vehicles). Whilst waiting for a recovery vehicle, which could take hours, you might get cold or wet due to the weather so keep warm and dry! Without this winter gear you might be tempted to stay in your vehicle. DON’T do it! It is extremely dangerous to stay in your vehicle especially on busy A roads or motorways in case a vehicle hits you from behind. This would be fatal if you were in the vehicle.
Prepared Your Journey
Now you are prepared for your journey you must adapt your driving to the conditions. Slow down in poor weather conditions. Make sure in rain you keep a 4 second gap between you and the vehicle you are following. Try counting this gap next time you are in the car. Its a much bigger gap than you may think, especially as many drivers do not adhere to this rule. Remember it takes twice as long to stop your car in the wet. In snow or ice conditions you need a 20 second gap. Your stopping distance in snow or ice at 70mph is nearly 1km…yes 1km! Although anyone who drives at 70mph in these conditions is gambling with their (and other peoples) life.
Make sure your windscreen wiper fluid is kept topped up. Don’t use water as this easily freezes and a non working window cleaner could lead to no visibility if the roads are dirty. This is also likely to give you penalty points on your licence and a fine.
Or course if you don’t need to do a journey in poor weather conditions, don’t. If you do need to drive in poor conditions please stay safe.