Winter Driving: Our Top Tips to Keep You Safe on the Road
Winter can be an extremely dangerous time on the roads, even for the most experienced of drivers. Ice and snow can make it hard to control your vehicle, especially if there are strong winds as well. Add to that the long, dark nights which can make even a short drive risky. In order to avoid having an accident, it’s crucial to know how to prepare yourself for driving in snowy and icy conditions. To help, here’s our guide to safe winter driving.
How to drive in icy conditions
The main hazard with icy conditions on the road is black ice. While snow can be risky to drive on, it can be easily seen. Black ice, on the other hand, blends in well with roads and by the time you are aware of it you may already be in trouble. One way to detect if there is ice on the roads is to check the ambient temperature: if it is close to freezing then you must slow down. Leave plenty of space between yourself and the vehicles in front and keep an eye on them. If they start running into difficulties, there may be ice ahead. Drive as slowly and carefully as possible, and if you do end up skidding, steer your car in the same direction the rear of the vehicle is moving in.
How to drive in ice and snow
Much like in icy conditions, drive slowly and leave plenty of space between yourself and the car in front. Leaving as much as ten times the normal gap between vehicles will give you plenty of space if you need to stop suddenly. Take it even slower down hills and around bends. If you lose your grip, take your foot off the accelerator and steer towards the direction you need to go. If the car skids, do not brake: just steer in the direction the car is heading to. Use dipped headlights in heavy snow and if visibility drops below 100m, use your fog lights until visibility improves.
How to drive in heavy rain and wind
In heavy conditions like wind and rain, make sure you can see well enough to drive. Drive slowly and carefully, switch on your wipers to the maximum setting, and turn on defogging inside the car. Use dipped headlights and fog lights if visibility is low. Avoid any deep pools of water if possible and hold the steering wheel steady against strong winds, making minor corrections if needed. If at any point you feel that conditions are too risky, pull over, stop, and wait until conditions improve.
Tips on driving in the snow
- Keep your distance. Your stopping distance increases tenfold on icy roads, so leave plenty of space between yourself and the car in front.
- Driving in a higher gear will give you better control in icy conditions compared to first gear.
- Make sure your lights are working properly and use the internal heating system to avoid mist building up.
- Use tyres with good grip and traction, and tread depth of at least 3mm. Winter tyres are even better if you have them.
- Take it slow and prepare for a longer, slower journey than usual. Leave plenty of time to get to your destination.
- If your car starts skidding, avoid braking suddenly and instead steer the vehicle in the direction of the skid.
- Drive slowly and keep alert in rainy, windy and foggy conditions. If visibility is too poor, pull over and wait for conditions to improve.
- Make sure you have a full tank of fuel to avoid the danger of running out on an icy road.
- Carry a breakdown kit with a blanket, torch, phone with full charge, water and snacks.
Refresh your driving skills with Nxtgen
If you need to build up your confidence when it comes to winter driving, book in for one of our refresher courses today. For more information on driving in snow get in touch with our team.