With a distinct chill in the air it’s time to brush up on your winter driving skills. Before you take to the road, watch our top tips video for driving in icy conditions.
Here’s your handy checklist of items to keep in your car during the winter months.
Snow and Ice
The Institute of Advanced Motorists has issued some recommendations to drivers:
- Clear your windows and side mirrors before starting your journey and use the heater settings to remove mist and condensation. Avoid using hot water to pour over your windscreen as it’s more than likely that it will freeze up again. Never apply heat to a door lock as most modern locks now have plastic components.
- Check your tyre treads. The legal minimum tread depth should be at 1.6mm – but for safe travel you should not let the depth go below 3mm. Whatever you do, avoid travelling with worn tyres at all costs as this will increase the likelihood of your car skidding.
- If you’re driving a manual vehicle, avoid using high revs and set off gently in second gear. This will improve control and reduce the risk of wheel spin. If you’re driving an automatic vehicle, select the ‘winter’ mode, (if there is one), which will automatically lock out first gear and reduce the risk of wheel spin – if unsure, refer to your handbook for more advice.
- If your car loses grip you should take your foot off the accelerator and point the front wheels in the direction you want them to go. All steering and braking inputs must be as gentle as possible in icy conditions. Front-wheel-drive vehicles are generally better in icy conditions, but if your car is a rear-wheel-drive always take it extra slow and steady when changing direction.
- Increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front, especially in slippery conditions. The same applies for when you’re approaching a junction or a sharp bend – drive at a steady speed that allows you to stop well within the available distance.
Winter tyres may be an option if the temperatures are likely to consistently drop below 7 degrees. Above that temperature winter tyres tend to lose their effectiveness. We have written more them in our Comprehensive Guide to Tyres.
Fog also tends to be more prevalent at this time of year. It often lingers at around dawn / dusk and can be slow to clear due to the colder temperatures. As well as the advice above, here are some additional tips:
- Remember that Daytime Running Lights, which are fitted to many newer car models, may not automatically have the rear lights on. Also, if you have your lights set to auto, the sensors may not pick up the foggy conditions, so manually turn your lights on.
- Ensure that your windscreen fluid bottle is topped up so that you can effectively clean your windscreen
- At junctions consider lowering your windows to listen for traffic, but remember that the fog may deaden the sound of approaching vehicles making it difficult
- Slow down for pedestrians and cyclists – you may not see them until the last second
Over the last few years flooding unfortunately seems to have become an annual event in some areas, but there are some things that you can do:
- Plan your route in advance. Try to stick to busy roads where possible, because the heavier traffic is likely to have cleared a passable route and also because there will be more help available if needed. Planning also means that you will know where you are should you need to call for assistance.
- As a general rule, it is not advisable to drive in water which is more than six inches deep. Of course, cars which are built higher from the ground will be able to manoeuvre through deeper water than lower-set motors but it is always a good idea to watch other cars driving through the water before attempting it yourself, if at all possible.
- When driving through the flood water, take it easy and drive slowly. Getting it over and done with as soon as possible can be tempting but could cause significant damage to your vehicle. Hard accelerating and braking should also be avoided. After leaving the flood, check that your brakes work.
- Bear in mind that your stopping distance will change in extreme weather conditions. Keep a safe distance from the driver in front, erring on the side of caution.
Above all, stay safe this winter.
Sources – IAM