The clocks are about to go back this weekend, which will decrease our daylight hours. This is a particularly hazardous time for motorists as it means that there will be more driving undertaken in the dark.
Visibility in the winter is reduced significantly and the adverse weather conditions all contribute towards the level of safety on the roads. That’s why it’s important to take note of simple precautions to not only keep motorists safe but also the pedestrians and cyclists who are particularly vulnerable at this time of year.
Adapting the way that you drive during the winter months and being prepared for every eventuality is vital. Take a look below at Trusted Dealers tips for winter driving.
Make sure you car is in full working order with some simple checks, for example, check that the lights are clean and working, your car battery is fully charged, your windscreen wiper blades and windows are clean and your washer bottle is filled with screen wash. Check the tread, depth and pressure on your tyres and make sure you have a spare to hand should you need it. Check your brakes are working well. It is also a good idea to get stocked up with de-icer, windscreen wash and oil and anti-freeze.
It is essential to have an emergency kit in your car in case you get stuck in remote weather conditions, especially if you are planning a long journey. Think about the things you would need should you become stranded in your car overnight, how would you stay warm and hydrated? Packing essentials such as a warm fleece, water, a shovel, wellington boots, a tow rope, a first aid kit, a working torch, a blanket, emergency rations of food and a fully charged mobile phone are all in-car essentials.
Most of us have very little experience of driving in adverse weather conditions – if we know it is going to be bad we tend to stay in. However, if you find yourself stuck in terrible conditions, it is essential to know how to drive safely. If you know you are going to be on the road frequently this winter, perhaps some refresher training is required. You employer might be willing to fund some driver training for you, so it’s well worth asking the question, or you can contact your local RoSPA Advanced Drivers and Riders group for further information.
How to drive
If you find yourself driving in snow or on icy roads, you must immediately adapt to these conditions. Reduce your speed to prevent the risk of skidding and improve your braking distance. Avoid braking or accelerating suddenly or sharp steering and reduce your speed smoothly and in plenty of time on slippery road surfaces. To brake on ice and snow without your wheels locking, get into a low gear earlier than normal and allow your speed to fall gradually whilst using your brakes gently. Make sure the gap between you and the vehicle in front is sufficient – you may need up to ten times the normal distance for braking. Finally, keep your car well ventilated to avoid drowsiness.
If you do get stranded, remember not to panic. Providing you have an emergency kit in your car, you will be able to stay warm and hydrated. Always stay with your vehicle and call the emergency services to let them know your location.