Winter is often the time of year when driving is most difficult and hazardous with dark nights, low winter sun and, of course; snow. A few simple tips and a bit of preparation will help you to keep safe on the road.
- Prepare your vehicle: It’s a good idea to do a number of checks before winter really begins. So, check that all the vehicle lights are working, your wiper blades are in good condition, you are well topped up with screen wash and anti-freeze, test your brakes and make sure your tyres have enough tread and are at the correct pressure. In wintery conditions, take some time to get your vehicle ready before setting off on your journey – makes sure all windows are fully defrosted and that your lights are clean. While it sounds dramatic, you might want to consider carrying an emergency kit in your vehicle just in case the worst happens. This should consist of a shovel, tow rope, torch, fully charged phone, extra de-icing equipment, warm clothing or car blanket and some emergency rations, such as chocolate.
- Plan Your Journey: If you are undertaking any journey in poor conditions, then take some time to plan ahead. Listen to weather forecasts (and if the weather is really bad ask yourself if you really need to make the journey) and continue to tune-in as your drive to see if anything has changed. Plan your route and alternative routes just in case you need to divert, ensure your vehicle is fully fuelled and try to let someone know where you are going and what time you will be there.
- Prepare the driver: Let’s face it, most of us have very little experience in driving in snow or other extreme conditions so don’t just drive as normal. Reduce your vehicle speed and avoid harsh acceleration, braking or cornering with the aim of driving in a smooth a manner as possible. Remember to increase the gap you would usually leave to the vehicle in front of you as you may need up to ten times your normal braking distance. Always use dipped headlights to make yourself visible and stop frequently when it’s snowing to clear your windscreen, lights and wheel arches. If you get stranded – don’t panic, stay with your vehicle and phone the emergency services.