We've created this handy guide to help you navigate the challenges of driving in winter.
Driving in winter significantly increases the risk of a crash.
There are numerous dangers associated with driving in the winter, and the threat of being involved in an accident is significantly higher.
For example, your car will take up to TEN TIMES longer to come to a stop in icy conditions.
Electrics, brakes and fluids will also be affected during the winter. That's why it's essential to have your car checked before something goes wrong on the road.
Before you set off in winter, you should check...
Driving in the snow can be a real challenge, even for the most experienced drivers. However, if the tread on your tyres isn’t at the correct level, it’s going to be even more difficult as your car won’t be able to grip the road!
Once temperatures dip below 7 degrees it's advisable to fit winter tyres as they are designed to deal with adverse conditions such as heavy snow.
If your car has been snowed on or the windows have been frozen over, it’s important to deal with the problem in the correct way, failure to do so will endanger you on the road and potentially damage your car!
If your windows are frozen over, use water which is 35-55 degrees to remove the ice. Whatever you do DON’T USE BOILING WATER! This may lead to shattering the window completely.
If there is a shelf of snow on top of your car, make sure to remove it with a brush.
You should also ensure you clean your mirrors properly as ice may obstruct the driver's view of the road.
What to do in an emergency
If you find yourself stuck in the snow, here are some essential pieces of advice.
If you get stuck in a rut in the snow, whatever you do, don’t try to speed out of it at full pelt! You’ll only dig yourself a bigger hole to get out of. Instead, put your car into a higher gear and move it forwards and backward slowly. This will ensure that you get out of the rut in a calm and controlled manner.
If you get caught in a snow drift, don’t leave your car. Simply keep the engine running and air conditioning on to stay warm. Call emergency services or your breakdown assistance for help.
Driving in wind and rain
Wind and rain can seriously affect your driving as well as the other vehicles on the road so make sure to keep the following advice in mind.
Surface water is extremely dangerous and can cause your car to aquaplane. This happens when the tread on your wheels get full of water and your car effectively loses all grip on the road. If this happens, stop braking or accelerating. The water should be filtered from the tread and grip restored. Unfortunately, flooding in the UK is becoming more prominent which means more roads will be at risk of being submerged at certain points. When approaching a flooded area, remember to:
Test the depth of the water before continuing.
Take another route if possible.
If you are driving through deep water, drive slowly in first gear but keep your engine speed high by slipping the clutch to avoid stalling.
Be aware of the bow wave generated by other drivers on the opposite side of the road.
Once you've passed through the water, gently press your brakes a few times to dry them off.
In high winds, it is vital to keep an eye out for riders on two wheels as they could be blown over on the road. Keep a close eye on high sided vehicles when passing; lorries and vans are susceptible to high winds and can even get blown over! Don’t try to overtake if you see a big vehicle swaying to one side.
Beware of falling debris, whether it’s from buildings, trees or rock faces, make sure you are alert when the wind starts picking up. If you are parking your car, try to avoid putting it next to trees or dangerous areas where debris could fall. Fog
Thick fog is extremely dangerous to drive in so try to avoid making a journey if possible. However, if you really need that caramel covered doughnut at half ten at night, here are the things you need to know about driving in the fog.
Make sure your lights are all in working order.
Switch your lights on even if it's daytime.
Keep your distance from the car in front.
Don't speed up as soon as you leave a bad patch of fog - you could find yourself in the same conditions again moments later.
Driving in snow and ice
Try to keep the following points in mind while you are driving in difficult conditions:
Reduce your speed! As we mentioned in our opening section, braking distance is TEN TIMES longer in the snow and ice.
Avoid sharp braking or turning, you’ll lose control of your vehicle if you don’t.
Use dipped headlights as the visibility in falling snow is significantly reduced.
Drive in a lower gear than usual and instead of braking sharply, take your foot off the accelerator and then apply the brakes softly to come to a controlled halt.