It’s that time of year when roads can turn into temporary skating rinks as the temperature drops and snow falls.
Adrian Flux Insurance Services has compiled a few helpful hints to help you drive safely in icy conditions if you find yourself forced to make an essential journey. Ensure your tyres are inflated correctly and you have a minimum of 3mm tread to cope with the treacherous conditions, and that your battery is fully-charged before you set off.
Clear all snow and ice from your windscreen, keep locks clear with a quick spray of WD-40 and plan any journeys round busier roads which are more likely to have been gritted.
If you find yourself trapped in your car, make sure you have everything you need on board to stay warm and safe. Keep warm by running the engine, but make sure your exhaust pipe isn’t blocked by snow or you could be overwhelmed by toxic fumes, and never run the engine for more than 10 to 15 minutes in each hour.
10 tips for driving in winter weather:
- Try not to venture out until the snow ploughs and sanding trucks have done their work and allow yourself extra time – and fuel – to get to your destination.
- Don’t leave your car running to warm up and then disappear inside to finish getting ready for work. Apart from the waste of petrol, you never know when there is an opportunist thief about.
- Turn on your lights to increase visibility to other motorists, ensure your lights and windscreen are clean and make sure that you’re wearing dry shoes rather than snow-covered boots which might slip off the pedals. Wear sunglasses to reduce the glare of low winter sun on the snow.
- Stopping distances are up to 10 times longer in ice and snow. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop.
- Select second gear when pulling away, if possible, and ease your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin. Use low gears, especially on hills, to keep traction.
- If you do find yourself skidding, don’t panic – the situation can be remedied. Always remember to steer into the skid – so if your rear wheels are sliding to the left, steer left – and be as gentle as possible with the pedals. There’s no substitute for practising on a skidpan or taking an advanced driving course.
- If you find yourself stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels (first, try turning your wheel from side to side gently to clear snow out of the way). If you need to clear snow by hand, shovel it away from the wheels and underside of the car and use old carpet, sand, cat litter or salt in the path of the wheels to get traction.
- If a road hasn’t been gritted, try not to drive in the wheel-tracks of other vehicles, which may be more icy than undisturbed snow.
- Keep a cold weather kit in the car for emergencies. Include a blanket, hat, gloves, thick socks, a fully-charged mobile phone, a torch, high-calorie snacks, water and a shovel in addition to your all-year-round kit of reflective warning triangle, tow rope, jump leads and first aid kit.
- Don’t be afraid to turn back if the conditions seem to be too treacherous. No journey is more important than your safety.
Call specialist broker Adrian Flux on 0800 369 8590 or visit adrianflux.co.uk