How To Stay Safe On The Roads This Winter

With bad weather coming and going, it is essential that you are prepared in case you get caught out in unexpected weather.  Always keep in your mind that breakdowns are more common during the winter months, so it's always useful to prepare an emergency kit as you never know when the roads might come to a stand still.  If you need ideas for your emergency kit, take a look at the AA's emergency kit essentials.

Before Setting Off

  • Make sure you de-ice your windscreen and all windows including mirrors properly.  Make sure you use a scraper for your windscreen, using items such as credit cards can cause damage to your windscreen.  Setting off before your windscreen has fully cleared is not only illegal, but also dangerous for you and other road users.  

  • Check weather and travel sources to make sure your route is accessible and not closed.

  • Check your vehicles roof and clear any loose snow or ice, as this can fall down onto your windscreen and obstruct your view.

  • Check your vehicles tyres.  Winter tyres are a brilliant precaution you can take if you want to prepare for driving in bad conditions.  MyTyres describes the benefits of winter tyres.  They recommend that when driving in winter conditions, you should make sure your tyre tread is at minimum 4 mm.

  • Turn your vehicle lights on and perform a check around your vehicle.  Make sure all lights are working and any snow or ice has been been cleared from your lights. 

  • Make sure fuel levels are suitable.  Always make sure your tank has at least 1/4 of fuel as being prepared for long traffic delays is handy.           

Stopping Distances

  • If you're driving whilst there is ice or snow on the road, keep in mind that according to the Highway Code Advice, stopping distances are multiplied by x10.  This means leave plenty of room if you are travelling behind another vehicle and when braking to come to a stop, apply braking so you stop before the location.  It is better to have control of the vehicle so you can slowly move forwards, than overshoot the location and put yourself in a dangerous situation.          

Driving Style

  • Whilst driving in icy and snowy conditions, the most important advice anyone can give is to drive at slow speeds.  Think, what would be my stopping distance at this speed and is this speed suitable for the road type and the conditions you are currently facing. 

  • Use high gears.  When pulling away if your wheels keep spinning in first gear, try pulling away in second gear.     

  • When braking, gently apply pressure don't apply pressure all at once, as this could cause the vehicles wheels to lock up and slide.  

  • Keep steering motions as smooth as possible. Avoid sudden movements as this could cause your vehicle to understeer.

  • If you come across a gritter, keep your distance as the salt can cause damage to your cars paintwork.  If you feel yourself wanting to overtake the gritter, you have not given yourself enough time to get to your destination.  The road ahead will most likely not be gritted and to remain safe it is best to keep a good distance behind the gritter.