Winter is here, and with it comes snow, ice and nasty conditions which can make driving a bit trickier.
Winter weather can cause disruption on the roads, especially in the UK where we aren’t always as well equipped as other countries to deal with it.
Unfortunately, road accident statistics are as stark at this time of year as the weather can be, so it really does pay to be careful.
Here's our top tips on driving safely in snow and ice 👇
The Department for Transport’s Road Traffic Statistics from 2016-2020, analysed by Rivervale, make for sobering reading.
Five years of data from 206 local authorities, looking at the number of accidents during snow, ice, floods, fog and darkness, found:
Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to ensure you and your vehicle are ready to drive in wintry conditions.
Firstly, don’t go out driving in shorts and a t-shirt. You may be able to turn the heaters up and put your seat warmers on to make your car Caribbean toasty inside, but if you break down or have an accident things will get chilly.
Make sure you and your passengers wear warm winter clothes and sturdy footwear for journeys and have some waterproofs in the car, just in case.
Allow extra time and plan well
Get up earlier to give you the time to de-ice the car and allow much longer than usual for journeys. Bad weather slows everyone down and roads can be more congested.
Plan journeys around major roads, which are more likely to be cleared/gritted. And avoid shortcuts on minor roads, which may not have been treated and could see you getting stuck.
Check your tyres
We may not think of this often, but in the winter it’s really important.
You should check for adequate tread, as poor tyres won’t grip well when driving on snow and ice. And if you live in an area where snow is common, it might be worth changing to winter tyres with deeper tread.
If conditions are really bad you might even consider the use of ‘snow socks’ or snow chains. Snow chains are useful for those living in extra snowy climates, as they provide much greater grip.
Increase your visibility
A good start is to keep your car clean! Make sure you have topped up your screen wash and use a good quality one that protects down to at least -35C to prevent the water from freezing.
If you don’t, your windscreen wipers could be useless in extreme conditions - and that’s when you need them most.
Check you’re topped up
A little squirt of WD-40 can be used to prevent door locks freezing up.
Ensure your fuel tank is topped up in the winter. This way, if you do get caught out in bad weather, you'll have enough fuel to make it home, or to be able to keep the engine running to keep warm.
If you do get stuck, make sure snow doesn’t block the exhaust, as fumes can leak into the vehicle.
It’s a great idea to keep these things in your vehicle throughout the winter months so you don’t get caught out.
Now it’s time to actually hit the road and start your journey! Here’s our top tips for driving in snow:
If you get stuck in a snow drift you should start by turning your wheels from side to side to push the snow out of the way.
Stop if your wheels keep spinning, as continuing will only dig you in deeper.
If your car is surrounded by snow before you set out, use a shovel to clear it out of the way. You could also pour cat litter, sand or gravel in front of the wheels to help get traction.
It’s a good idea to shift from forward to reverse and back again to try and get some movement – but if you can't move your car, stay warm by keeping the engine running.
Again, make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t blocked by snow.
If you’re stuck somewhere far from home, stay in or close to your car. In heavy snow, due to the extreme lack of visibility, it is easy to get disorientated and lost, so don’t risk losing your way.
Whatever the weather, you must have insurance when driving - even if it’s just for one hour.
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It's perfect for borrowing and lending - and for experienced or learner drivers alike.
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