We’ve spoken about how to keep your car safe in these wintry conditions, but what about your driving? Whether you’re learning, have recently passed or have been driving for years, we have some simple but very effective ways how you can stay safe on the road.
Don’t get too close.
When it is snowy or icy, your stopping distance increases significantly from what it would usually be. What would have been a two-second distance can end up increasing to you needing to leave a ten or more-second gap from the vehicle in front of you.
Driving too close to the car in front of you is a risky idea as you might not be able to stop in time if you need to brake suddenly, or if you skid on ice.
What gear should you be in?
Driving in higher gears in snow and ice will help you keep control of your car. If it is icy and you are struggling to get started, try and move away in second gear. Pulling away in first gear doesn’t give you as much grip!
Know how to work your car.
Not only are we faced with subzero temperatures, but winter means shorter days! Before setting off on any journey, check that all of your lights are working and make sure you know which lights to use for which situation. Learn how to use your heating controls to de-ice your car before you leave to avoid any mist on your windscreen.
Your grip is going to have a serious impact if it is icy so making sure all tyres are in good condition is essential. Law states your tyre tread must have a minimum depth of 1.6mm, but the grip will start to reduce on anything under 3mm. Please replace them if they are anything under!
Slow and steady wins the race.
Being in a rush paired with winter conditions is a recipe for disaster. When driving in winter always leave plenty of time for any journey you are going to make.
Wake up 15 minutes early to make time to de-ice your car, don’t leave it last minute and rush. Defrost your car properly so it is safe to drive and be on time at the same time too.
How to recover from black ice.
If you do end up hitting the dreaded black ice, there are some practices you can do to help the situation.
If you lose control of the car, keep both hands on the wheel and don’t brake. You should also steer into the skid as this should help you to get back on track.
We do realise if you lose control of your car you will most likely go into panic mode - who wouldn’t - but try your best to stay calm, be aware of your surroundings and take on board the advice above.
Stay topped up.
Running out of fuel is much more dangerous in winter months than in summer. Keep your tank topped up to at least halfway so you’re not left broken down in the dark and cold!
Are you prepared?
Carrying some essentials in your car can be a very smart move if you break down. Things like a blanket, warm coat, torch, water, snacks, a shovel and anything else that you can think you would need as the result of a breakdown could make things a lot more bearable than if you are left stranded with nothing.
We know driving in these conditions isn’t pleasant for anyone, but if you are feeling especially nervous about being behind the wheel, ask a friend or family member to accompany you on the first few trips. This will help build confidence and will be helpful if you need any advice along the way.
Keep to a sensible speed, stay calm, and follow these tips!