Winter driving tips
Winter weather can have a big impact on driving conditions. Strong winds, fog, heavy rain, sleet and snow can lead to wet and slippery surfaces and reduce visibility, increasing the risk of an accident occurring. Therefore it is essential you are well-prepared for winter motoring conditions and take extra care on the roads.
Try and check the morning weather reports before starting a journey. In poor weather and visibility conditions, only make trips that are absolutely necessary or consider using an alternative method of transport such as a train or bus.
Winter driving safety checklist
Before getting your car on the road in winter weather conditions make sure you:
- Clear any snow or ice off your car.
- Check all exterior lights work properly and are clean.
- Check front and rear wiper blades for wear or splitting and ensure you have plenty of screen wash additive to prevent freezing.
- Check all windows and mirrors are clean.
- Check all dashboard warning lights operate correctly.
- Check oil and water levels. Ensure they are topped up correctly and pay particular attention to the anti-freeze content of the cooling system.
- Inspect your battery electrolyte level and top it up with distilled water if necessary. Check the battery connections are tight and free from any corrosion.
- Check your tyres (including the spare) are inflated to the manufacturers’ recommended pressure and have at least 3mm of tread depth. Replace any old or worn tyres.
- Inspect your brake fluid levels.
- Check the heater system in your vehicle works properly.
- Add all the necessary winter items to your emergency kit, including an ice scraper and de-icer, a torch, warm clothes and a blanket, a pair of boots, first-aid kit, battery jump leads, a fire extinguisher, a spare fuel can and warm food and drink in a flask.
- Take a map with your for any unplanned diversions.
- Remember to fully charge the battery on your mobile phone.
When driving, make sure you:
- Increase the space between you and the car in front to allow for greater stopping distances.
- Accelerate slowly and avoid sudden stops and starts.
- Drive cautiously and be aware of other road users at all times. Pay careful attention to cyclist, motorcyclist during windy and wet weather.
- Watch out for salt spreaders and snow ploughs. Don’t overtake these vehicles unless it is safe.
- Avoid driving through deep surface water as you could flood your engine.
- Use dipped headlights in foggy conditions. Use your fog lights if conditions are poor (e.g. visibility is less than 100m) but remember to turn them off to avoid dazzling other road users and obscuring your brake lights.
If your vehicle starts to skid you should:
- Depress the clutch and refrain from using the brake. Braking will only lock up your wheels and make your car skid further.
- Turn the steering wheel into the direction of the skid.
- Steer along the road when the vehicle straightens.
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