Winter driving advice
is the worst time of the year to get behind the wheel; getting up early
to get the ice off your car, then adding extra time onto each journey
due to icy roads, however preparing for the worst & using the
following advice will help you get through the cold winter months on
Before you get on the road
* Check & replace
(if necessary) the anti-freeze in the radiator
* Make sure your lights are
clean and check the bulbs are working
* Ensure your windscreen is
cleared fully before you set off.
* Check your battery
status; most car batteries have an indicator of their current level.
Snow chains are not illegal
although if you are found to be driving them on roads that are clear
from snow & ice there's a good chance you will be cautioned for
damage to the road; also they can do more damage than good to your
tyres unless you are actually driving through thick snow/roads that
have not been gritted. For residential roads that have already been
treated, you won't see that much benefit, they are more beneficial to
those who have to travel down country roads with thick snow; the legal
line is that they should be removed as soon as you can see the road.
Is your windscreen clear?
receive a fine of up to £1000 for driving with restricted vision if
your windscreen is not clear; so follow the tips below before your
* Brush all snow off the
windscreen, mirrors and windows
* Lift the windscreen
wipers away from the window to check they are not stuck to the
* Spray de-icer onto the
windscreen and use an ice scraper to remove any thick ice/frost.
* Use air conditioning for
faster demisting and to reduce condensation on cold windows.
* Clear the inside of your
window, any smear marks from sat navs/mp3 players will be magnified by
the sun and will make it difficult to see where you are going.
* Clear any snow from the
roof of your car, it could fall onto the windscreen blocking your view.
* Check your windscreen
washer fluid is full and mixed with an anti-freezing agent.
* Never use hot
water to defrost the ice on your windows quickly; this can crack the
glass on your windscreen.
There will be
times when driving in hazardous conditions are unavoidable, so take
care and consider the following:
Check for ice before driving
– most cars now have ice warning lights and temperature gauges.
Anything below three degrees centigrade means ice is likely.
Ask yourself whether you need
to travel, and only do so if your journey is completely necessary.
Remember - Braking distances
are as much as 10 times longer in snow and ice.
To avoid wheel spin, pull off
in second gear, slowly taking your foot off the clutch.
If your tyres suddenly become
quiet, this could be a sign you’re driving on ice, so slow down and
concentrate on getting home safely, turn off the radio and give the
road your full attention.
Watch out for salt spreaders
and snow ploughs. Both use flashing amber beacons and will drive at
less than 40mph. If you have to overtake these vehicles, leave plenty
of room as any grit may damage your car.
Avoid over-revving the engine
in thick snow – this can cause the wheels to get stuck.
Don’t accelerate or brake
If you do get stuck, use a
high gear and lightly manoeuvre the car out of the snow.
Ensure your tyres are in good
condition and have the minimum legal pressure and tread depth. At least
3mm of tread is recommended for winter driving, and no less than 2mm.
Carry an emergency kit
emergency kit containing the following could prove helpful in case the
unthinkable does happen:
* Ice scraper and de-icer
* Torch and spare batteries
* Walking boots
* Warm clothes and a blanket
* A first aid kit
* Jump leads should you need
to attempt to restart your car
* Food and a warm drink in a
* A shovel to dig snow away
from your wheels
* A reflective warning
sign/triangle to notify other road users there is a stationary car
Getting adequate breakdown
cover to either fix your car at the side of the road or to recover your
vehicle to a nearby garage would be a wise move. Breakdown cover can
often be included in your car insurance policy; so when you’re looking
for the cheapest cover add it as an optional extra – it may work out
cheaper than buying separate cover.
What if you break down?
panic. If you break, call your breakdown assistance provider and follow
their instructions. If you have a warning triangle, place this around
50 metres behind your car and return to your vehicle.
* Give as much information as you can to the emergency
services/breakdown recovery, including your name, car model &
registration number, the road you are on, location, direction of travel
and any specific landmarks.
* Give an explanation of the
cause of the breakdown or suspected problems
* Ask for proof of identity
from any recovery service, and if necessary call your breakdown
provider back to verify who they are.
If you break down on a motorway, get to the hard shoulder and as far
away from the traffic as possible. Exit the vehicle using only the
passenger side doors, and find your nearest roadside marker. These are
used to pinpoint your location on the motorway.
Find an emergency phone, which
will connect you directly to the highways agency who will ask for your
name, vehicle model and colour, along with the problem you have
encountered. They will also ask if you have breakdown cover or if you
need a local recovery service.
Return to your car, but do not
enter it, or let any passengers get back in the car. Stay on the
embankment; unless it is dangerous to stay outside the vehicle. Ensure
your hazard lights are left on until assistance arrives.
If you are on normal roads,
stay in your car and call your breakdown provider from the car. Do not
attempt to get out and walk unless help is visible within 100 yards.
Turn your car engine over occasionally to keep warm, but make sure
exhaust pipe is clear of any snow or debris, and keep a window open to
prevent a build up of carbon monoxide inside the vehicle.
Hopefully none of us will
break down when out in the snow, but if it does happen, hopefully the
above will have helped you prepare for it until you get home safely.
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