If you must drive in winter conditions, it’s essential to make sure that you – and your car – are as prepared as possible.
Make sure 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 and use de-icer rather than hot water, which can crack 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 the worst happens and you do 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 highly-toxic carbon monoxide fumes, and never run the engine for more than 10 to 15 minutes in each hour.
Specialist insurance broker Adrian Flux Insurance Services has compiled 10 top tips to make driving in snow or ice a less daunting prospect. Stay safe.
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, bearing in mind that you may have to make unplanned diversions.
- 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. Similarly, adopt an off-piste look during the day by wearing 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, bearing in mind that other road users will be less visible if the weather conditions are poor.
- 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 your rear wheels skid, take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels slide to the left, steer to the left and if they slide right, steer to the right. Pump your brakes gently – if you have ABS brakes, do not pump, apply steady pressure.
- If your front wheels skid, take your foot off the accelerator and put the car into neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately. As the car slows, steer in the direction you want to go, release the clutch and accelerate gently.
- If you find yourself stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels (first of all, you can 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.
- Most importantly of all, don’t be afraid to turn back if the conditions seem to be too treacherous. No journey is more important than your safety.
* Adrian Flux Insurance Services offer a huge range of insurance options for motorists for a surprisingly low price and can offer drivers the peace-of-mind to keep them safely on the road. Call specialist broker Adrian Flux on 0800 369 8590 or visit adrianflux.co.uk