The winter is on its way, no question about it and with the weather forecasts promising ice and snow already, drivers cannot be careful enough and prepare ahead for wintery road conditions.
Even the most experienced driver can be caught–out by snow so the best advice, as simple as it may be is: keep calm and be prepared.
Here is a few handy tips to keep you safe on the road this winter:
- Keep your distance: Allow 4 times the recommended stopping distance from the vehicle in front on a snowy road and 10 times so you are not relying on your brakes to be able to stop.
- Plan your journey: Allow more time for your journey and plan it around busier roads as they are more likely to have been gritted. Try to avoid quiet country lanes, as they’re unlikely to have been cleared of snow, and if you do get lost or stuck, you might end up out of signal and struggling to summon help.
- Check the forecast: Obtain weather information before you set off and keep up to date with changing conditions and closed routes via the radio or by regularly calling into base.
- Check your vehicle: Put your vehicle through a pre-winter check to flag up any potential problems. Knowing your vehicle’s in tip-top condition isn’t just about peace of mind. Winter driving places extra demands on a vehicle, and certain components become more crucial than ever. A simple check of lights, fluid levels, and tyre tread depths and pressures might reveal something you really ought to know about. If your wiper blades are worn, make sure they’re changed to avoid smear, and top up your screen wash. Don’t forget to get your garage to check your battery and the concentration of your anti-freeze, too.
- Battery: In winter, the battery will run down quicker than in warmer weather. Make sure you do a regular long journey to top it up or trickle-charge the battery.
- Fuel: Keep your tank topped up – that way if you are caught out, you’ll have enough fuel to make it home or run the engine to keep warm. However, it’s essential to keep snow from blocking the exhaust as noxious fumes can leak into the vehicle.
- Visibility: Falling snow can reduce visibility dramatically, use dipped headlights and reduce your speed. Using your headlights in winter is as much about being seen as it is about seeing. Road markings and traffic signs can be obscured by snow too. Take extra care at junctions.
- Winter tyres or snow socks: Carrying snow chains will help in the most extreme situations, but snow socks are a better bet as they’re far easier to fit and won’t damage the road surface if it isn’t entirely covered in a blanket of snow. Fitting winter tyres is just as good as they are more effective below 7C in any weather conditions, not just in snow, and offer more grip on loose or slippery surfaces, too.
- Brush the snow off your car: Snow can cover your rear screen while driving, or worse, fly off at high speed and hit the vehicles behind. If they happen to have tree debris – twigs or chunks of bark – hidden in them, they could cause serious damage. Also don’t forget to make sure your rear-view mirrors and rear screen are cleared too, so that you can see what’s happening behind you – and of course, remember to clear your side windows too, so that you can see what’s coming at junctions. Do not use water to de-ice windscreens. Hot water can crack the glass, and the water will only freeze again on the screen or on the ground where you are standing.
- If you do get stuck…don’t spin your wheels. Instead, try to dig away the snow in front of the drive wheels, sprinkle salt or sand, this will help to give you extra traction. If you are trapped in your vehicle, you can stay warm by running the engine. However, it is vital that the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow. If the engine fumes cannot escape, you could be overwhelmed by carbon monoxide gas, which is highly toxic. Even if it is safe, do not run the engine for more than 10 or 15 minutes in each hour.
- Pack an emergency kit: If you do end up stranded, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re ready. Packing an emergency kit can save you a lot of headache when you get stuck in the snow.
EMERGENCY SNOW KIT: