You either love the winter weather, or you loathe it. Whatever your stance, winter motoring needs to be carefully monitored. Bad weather in the UK can come upon us in an instant; sometimes the weather is severe enough for traffic on the roads to come to a stand still.
Depending on where you live, the winter motoring conditions can be extreme. You may experience snow, torrential rain, icy roads (which often include black ice), intense fog and the probability of floods. When motorists face uncompromising weather conditions such as this they need to be prepared. This sort of weather can lead to the risk of horrific accidents.
Handling winter motoring
If you are certain your car and tyres are in excellent order, then prior to driving make sure you clear all the windows and roof of dirt, snow or debris. If your windows are iced up have a can of de-icer to hand, or you could use tepid water to clear the ice. Never use hot water on your freezing windows as they could crack. The roof should be cleared of snow and ice because when it melts it will run onto your windows and may suddenly block your view.
Did you know it is against the law to drive with your windows full of snow including the rear windscreen?
Although winter motoring can be unpredictable, it can be a breeze if you follow these simple driving techniques.
• If you don't feel you can handle treacherous snow or heavy rainfall, then avoid using your car. The best precaution during bad winter weather is to stay indoors.
• Always give yourself more time to get to your destination; avoid rushing.
• Always drive as slowly as possible to avoid a collision.
• Stopping distances in extreme weather are ten times greater, so always avoid driving too close to the vehicle in front. Make sure you are alert at all times in keeping your distance.
• Slow down even more when driving around corners and approaching junctions. This will help you steer clear of any crazy drivers out there.
• Avoid winter driving with one hand on the steering wheel; not only is this a very bad habit, it's dangerous. The snow and ice can easily cause a nasty accident in a second. Definitely stay off your mobile phone (which should be the case all year round).
• Some modern cars have a 'Snow Mode' or some sort of stability system; use it if the weather has become treacherous.
• Don't be afraid of the ABS system on slippery roads. ABS can decrease slipping, sliding and wheel spins. The ABS is a reactive system; it will only begin to work if it detects a problem.
• Pulling away in second gear can be quite handy as it averts the tyres from slipping, sliding and spinning. Avoid revving the engine as you pull away.
• Avoid panicking if your car is skidding and sliding. Never slam your foot on the brake, but rather take your foot off the accelerator and steer your car in the direction it's sliding. For example, left to left or right to right, never the opposite way or your car will end up in an uncontrollable spin. Sometimes it can be quite good to apply the handbrake gently when applying the brakes.
TIP: If your car does start sliding and you're heading towards another car, it is better to bump into one car than swerve all over the place causing a massive accident with several cars.
• Avoid heavy braking; gradual braking prevents the wheels from spinning and sliding out of control.
• When driving in the snow switch off your music or keep it low. Take note of how your tyres sound when gripping the snow. If you suddenly stop hearing that familiar sound of crunching and gripping then you could be driving on black ice.
Black ice is definitely something to be aware of. It normally appears early in the morning, covering the road and invisible to the human eye. One of the team had an accident once in a small side road where another car was coming towards them. They both braked at the same time, literally just skidding into a head on collision. Whilst waiting at the side of the road with the other driver for the breakdown trucks to arrive, the black ice on the road after about half an hour just melted. It was so frustrating as if they had driven down the same road half an hour later then there wouldn't have been a problem. Beware of black ice.
Before winter, it's always a good practice to have your car serviced and thoroughly check your car over regularly during the winter months.
Have you found this information helpful? We would love to hear your comments below.
Need new or used van/car parts at awesome prices? Get quotes from breakers across the UK.