Winter driving

Safe driving in winter

Driving in winter conditions brings with it specific challenges. Whether you are driving for your job or simply travelling to work, understanding how the weather affects your journey is really important.

Pack some essentials

So you’re properly prepared for driving in winter, it’s a good idea to pack some essentials in your car as the season begins. This might include some war clothing, blanket, torch and first aid kit. You might also want to pack an ice scraper, shovel, jump leads, de-icer and some grit or cat litter.

For each specific journey it’s a good idea to have some water and food with you and ensure that your mobile is fully charged up or you have some method of charging with you.

Your vehicle

Make sure you have a full tank of petrol or identify somewhere you can fill up early in your journey. If you do a lot of driving for your work it may be worthwhile investing in some winter tyres and regularly checking levels of oil, water and screenwash.

Clearing your vehicle

In a previous blog we offered some tips on how to clear the windscreen of your vehicle.

Additionally you should ensure that you clear the ice from the whole of your windscreen and not just a peephole to peer through. You should also clear other windows too as well wing mirrors, cameras and lights. You’re best not to use boiled water as the sudden change in temperature can cause the glass to crack. You should also check that windscreen wipers aren’t frozen to the screen either as using them may rip the rubber blades away.

You also need to remove any snow that may have collected on the top of your vehicle. This is now a legal requirement and you risk being stopped by police if this hasn’t been done. Failure to do this can result in making conditions for motorists following you even more dangerous.

Adapt your driving in winter to the conditions

Stopping distances can be multiplied tenfold on snowy or icy roads. By allowing a greater distance between you and the vehicle in front you will allow yourself more reaction time in the event of a problem. Try and leave a gap of around 20 seconds from the car in front of you and drive smoothly and gently.

Changing the way you drive according to the conditions can help greatly in avoiding skids, wheel spins or getting stuck. In icy conditions progressive, smooth and slow use of the steering, accelerator and brake will contribute to keeping as much grip as possible with the surface of the road.

In a manual vehicle you should look to change gear early in acceleration and keep engine revs low. When decelerating gear changes should be late and again with revs as low as possible. Keeping the revs low ensures the engines turns slower, lowering the risk of wheel spin.