As the predicted snow and ice hits the UK, drivers are sure to have their skills put to the test. Adverse weather conditions almost always result in a spike in accidents – which nobody likes!
To help you out, we’ve put together this list of things you can do to make driving safer and easier in the cold weather. As well as a few tips for driving in winter conditions.
Check Your tyres
Obviously, our number one tip to make driving safer in winter conditions is to check your tyres. The UK legal limit on tread depth is 1.6mm, however it is recommended to check your tyres have at least 3mm of tread if you are to be driving in winter conditions. Even a good summer tyre can’t compare with a set of winter tyres though. When the temperature drops, the compound in summer tyres can harden and loses traction. Winter tyres are designed to remain soft in temperatures below 7°C. Winter tyres will have a huge impact on how your car handles in freezing, snowy or icy conditions.
If you haven’t already, now’s the time to check your tyres. If you don’t like the idea of swapping tyres or having a set of wheels for summer & winter – you can always opt for an ‘all-season’ tyre. These are a great option which save having to change over to winter tyres, saving money and keeping you safe in all conditions!
Top-up Your Screen Wash
Winter weather tends to be pretty wet and with salt being spread on the roads this leads to your windscreen getting pretty grubby and an increased use of wipers – which you might want to replace if they’re not working quite how they used to.
There’s nothing worse than trying to clear your windscreen only to make it worse by smearing the dirt across the screen. So, it’s important at this time of year to make sure your washer bottle is full. Screen wash can be picked up at most fuel stations, supermarkets and other retailers in either a ready mixed or concentrated version. We recommend going for a concentrated one that you mix with water – these are better value for money.
Screen wash doesn’t freeze at the same point as water, so this will help your washer jets from freezing as well – though they can still get blocked if it is particularly frosty or rain gets into them & freezes.
Check Your Lights
This one’s pretty obvious but is often forgotten. Winter days are a lot shorter and we spend a lot more time driving in the dark, so it’s important to make sure your exterior lights are working how they should be.
Be sure before setting off on a journey that you have cleaned all your exterior lights. Lenses can get pretty grubby just the same way your windscreen does, this can reduce the effectiveness of your lights which could be dangerous for you and other road users. It is estimated that cars without headlight washers will lose 40% luminosity and nearly all focus within 20 miles of driving on a damp, gritted motorway. So remember on a long journey to make regular stops to clean your windscreen and headlights.
Also be sure to regularly check that all your lights are in working order. You can do this by asking someone else to check from outside the car, or by approaching a wall or reflective surface and testing them yourself. It’s a good idea to learn how to change the different bulbs on your car and carry some spares in the car with you, the last thing you want to do is find yourself without working lights and trying to learn to change them at the roadside in winter.
Pack a Winter Kit
Making sure you have a few essentials in your car is important in winter. Keeping an ice scraper, shover, de-icer, screen wash, water, something to eat and something warm like a blanket or heavy coat. Also remember to carry a phone charger with you, rechargeable power banks are great. These small essentials could be vital in keeping you safe in an emergency.
Adjust Your Driving
As the weather changes, your driving style should adapt to suit it. Make sure to keep a safe distance from vehicles in front – stopping distances in winter conditions can increase up to ten times. You should also make sure to at least triple your stopping distance when approaching junctions, breaking smoother, sooner.
Smooth handling is important in winter conditions, avoid any harsh braking, steering or accelerating to help prevent an accident. It is also very important to be aware of your surroundings and anticipate what’s ahead.
Stay safe out there!