Top Tips For Safe Winter Driving
The UK has been experiencing un-seasonal good weather, but winter still has some surprises up its sleeve – here are our top tips for safe winter driving, so you can be prepared!
Here are our top tips for ensuring you stay safe during winter drives:
- Keep Your Vehicle Well Maintained
This point covers mechanically, and those smaller jobs too. Windscreen fluid needs to be constantly monitored and topped up (it’s illegal to drive without it as the wipers won’t function properly). Also ensure before setting off that visibility is 100%, and all ice has been scraped away from front and rear windscreens and mirrors. Lights, markers and reflectors need to be clean and visible too. And don’t forget the defroster and heater too.
- Don’t Drive Tired
We constantly see these reminders flashed up on the motorway, but driving tired is something people do every day. It’s become such a concern that there is now a Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. One recent survey discovered that up to one third of the participants admitted to actually falling asleep at the wheel. Men are more likely than women to dose whilst driving, and people aged 18 – 29 are the highest risk factor (71%), hotly followed by 30 – 64 year olds (52%).
- Keep Your Distance
When white chevrons were painted upon the motorways, there was a noticeable drop in accidents on these particular roads, as it made people more aware of their distance to the vehicle in front.
Always leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front to react and carry out evasive action. For example, at 70 mph it would take a car 4.6 seconds to stop (based upon the accepted industry standard figure of 15 ft per second braking time). Add in another 2 seconds for you to notice/react to the situation. And note this is on a dry road, with good tyres.
Now throw in wet roads and a heavier vehicle. It doesn’t take a genius to see that you’d need around 10 seconds to come to a safe halt.
- Take Emergency Equipment
Should something happen, then being prepared is the best way to ensure you’ll stay comfortable until help is at hand. Our suggested list includes:
Road atlas (In case the sat nav fails)
Torch with batteries.
Reflective Hazard/Warning sign
In and out of car phone charger
Food and drink
Blankets and extra coats.
Ice scraper and de-icer.
First aid kit.
- Observe Speed Limits
A speed limit is a suggested speed, not an obligation. If it doesn’t feel safe or ‘right’ to drive at the speed limit, then don’t.
- Be Aware Of Defensive Driving
Snow, rain, ice and high winds require different skills, but all of them benefit from driving much slower than usual. Wind has the capacity to move the vehicle across the lane, so the slower you drive (within reason), the more easy it will be to control.
If it’s heavy snow, the temptation will be to follow the tail lights of the vehicle in front. Resist this, as it may well mean that you’re too close to stop abruptly if needed.
- Don’t Stop On The Hard Shoulder In Poor Visibility
This is a classic danger point. Other vehicles may mistake your position as being on the road – and come slamming into the back of you.
- In the Event of A Breakdown – Call For Help
Bad visibility will need proper assistance and flashing lights to alert motorists.
- Ensure Tyres Are In Good order
As well as being illegal, a balding tyre is dangerous – and useless on icy roads. If your tyre is approaching its use by date, then don’t take risks in bad weather. Change it or stay at home.
- Think timings
Always allow plenty of time for your journey. Expect bad weather and delays as a given. If you allow for them in advance, the frustration factor is removed and you won’t feel the need to drive any faster to make up for time.