Cold temperatures, reduced daylight, ice, snow and Christmas are just a few of the things which winter brings. But it also brings the need for preparation and more caution when driving on our roads, and that doesn’t just mean making sure car is ready, as adapting your driving style and behaviour is equally as important. Take a look at our tips below to help you stay safe on the UK’s roads this winter.
- Prepare your vehicle
A few simple checks can reduce the chance of a breakdown in your vehicle and help avoid costly repair bills during the winter months. If your car hasn’t been serviced for a while, we strongly recommend booking it in for a service; and you can a book a service online at RMB 24/7 here: https://rmbauto.service123.co.uk/.
As a minimum we recommend ensuring you’ve completed these regular checks of your vehicle before the harsh weather kicks in.
- Lights – Check all your lights are clean and in working order.
- Tyres – Check the overall condition, pressure and tread depth of your tyres. The recommended tyre depth for winter is 3mm. Also consider investing in a set of winter tyres for improved safety.
- Windscreen – Check you wiper blades are in a good condition and your washer bottle in topped up with screen wash.
- Brakes – Check your brakes and listen for any squeaks or rattles and shakes which are signs you brakes could need some attention from the experts.
- Battery – Make sure your battery is fully charged. The cold weather can take its toll on your car’s battery especially if you’re not driving regularly.
- Fluids and Oil – Check your oil and anti-freeze levels.
- Carry the essentials
Your car’s heating system is great for keeping you warm whilst driving on a cold, wintry day. However, in the event of an emergency or breakdown it shouldn’t be relied upon, which is why it’s important to carry some essential items in your car during winter:
- Warm blanket
- First aid kit
- Emergency warning triangle
We recommend carrying these items alongside your other winter must-haves:
- Windscreen scraper
- Snow shovel or spade
- Extra screen wash
- Plan your journeys
If you are travelling on a long journey, be aware of changing conditions along the route. We recommend listening to local and national weather reports and travel bulletins for information which may affect your journey.
In the case of the emergency services recommending that people do not travel, we advise reviewing your travel plans to consider whether your journey could be cancelled, postponed or travelled by another means.
- Allow more time
Before setting off on your journey, the Highway Code commands that you must be able to see clearly out of ALL windows. So although an extra 5 minutes in bed would be lovely, remember to allow enough time to de-mist and de-ice your car before setting off, ensuring all windows are clear of mist, ice and snow.
Leaving the engine running helps speed up the process, but remember not to leave your car unoccupied if doing this; and if using water on your windscreen DO NOT use boiling water as this could cause the glass to shatter.
- Driving in snow or ice
One of the biggest challenges in winter is driving on icy roads or in the snow, and it’s important to adapt your driving style in these conditions.
- Reduce your speed.
- Increase the distance between you and the car in front.
- Prepare for increased stopping distances.
- Avoid harsh braking or acceleration.
- Slowdown in advance when approaching bends and corners.
- Use dipped headlights when visibility is reduced.
If you get stuck in the snow, move your car backwards and forwards whilst in the highest gear possible. If alone, you may need to use your snow shovel or ask for assistance from passers-by.
- Driving in the rain
Living in the UK means rain is something we’re more than used to, but during the winter months we unfortunately tend to receive more rainfall. Not only does rain reduce our ability to see whilst driving but it also increases the stopping distance. So remember to give the car in front more distance.
In the event of floods we recommend checking local weather reports for any road closures or diversions. If the roads are open as normal but you encounter a flooded road on your journey remember the following points:
- Stick to the middle of the road where the water levels are usually the shallowest. The deepest water is normally near the kerb.
- Drive slowly in first gear.
- Press your brakes when you are through the flood to dry them off.
- If you cannot sense the water’s depth or it seems too deep, find an alternative route.
In severe floods we advise you avoid driving and follow any guidance from the emergency services.
- Driving in fog
Using your fog lights correctly during fog is crucially important to staying safe on the road. The Highway Code state you must only use your fog lights when visibility is seriously reduced. Once visibility improves turn your fog lights off to avoid dazzling other drives. In patchy fog, avoid switching your fog lights on and off as can be a distraction for other drivers.
Be careful of ‘tailing’ other motorists rear lights as this can lead to a full sense of security and you may in fact be too close to the vehicle to brake safely.
- Driving in low sunshine
Even though its winter the sun can still cause difficulties whilst driving, especially due to the angle of the sun in the sky as it will usually be too low for your visor.
To avoid being caught out by the sun, keep your windscreen clean both on the outside and inside to reduce dazzling and if you are blinded by the glare of the sun at any time whilst driving reduce your speed.
Those were our tips for driving through the winter weather and remember if the worse happens and you breakdown or become stranded, remain calm and do not panic. Stay close by to your vehicle and call your breakdown cover provider or the emergency services in the event of a serious incident.
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