06 Dec Six Tips for Safer Winter Driving
It’s no secret that the winter months bring the most challenging driving conditions of the year. Irrespective of how confident and experienced you may be, unexpected (or very much expected) cold snaps can bring chaos to the roads.
This is where a few basic guidelines from road safety experts can go a long way. If you are heading out and about in your car this winter, here’s what you need to do to keep yourself (and other road users) safe:
- Allow extra time
From short trips to the supermarket to ambitious cross-country journeys, it is essential to allow yourself more time than you think you need. Taking your time holds the key to driving safely in the winter, when driving at normal speeds may not be possible. Plus, with extra time available, you will be less inclined to rush and potentially make the kinds of mistakes that could put your health and safety in jeopardy.
- Consider alternative routes
Different types of roads bring different hazards to consider in winter. Busy roads tend to be prioritised by gritters, but can also get strictly congested at peak times. Elsewhere, roads that are more off-the-beaten-track may be quieter, but may also be overlooked on gritters’ routes. It’s therefore important to weigh up the pros and cons of all routes available and to make your decision as strategically as possible. Again, allowing plenty of time to get where you need to be.
- Ensure your tyres are in good shape
When you think about it, the only thing standing between you and a potentially horrific accident is the tread on your tyres. Not to mention, whether or not your tyres are inflated properly at the time. Tyre checks should therefore be prioritised during the winter, ensuring they’re able to do their job properly. If you have any doubts, now could be the perfect time to upgrade your tyres before things get particularly hazardous on the roads.
- Don’t assume it’s safe
Just because the road ahead looks perfectly clear does not necessarily mean it is. In stark contrast to its name, black ice is actually completely invisible. In freezing conditions, patches of black ice can manifest just about anywhere and are practically impossible to see with the naked eye. Hence, what appears to be a perfectly safe stretch of road could actually be punctuated in patches of lethal black ice. If temperatures call for slower speeds to stay safe on the road, err on the side of common sense and slow down.
- Be gentle with your clutch
Clutch control is something that comes with experience and is particularly important in hazardous winter driving conditions. Being too harsh with the clutch will result in the kind of wheelspin and skidding that could result in a total loss of control. By contrast, keeping things as gentle as possible with your clutch will help maximise the grip your tyres have on the road. Where possible, driving in a higher gear can also be a good way to minimise stress on the tyres and reduce the likelihood of skidding.
- Plan for all eventualities
You cannot accurately predict when and where your car will break down. Or for that matter, when another motorist will hit your car out of the blue, leaving you stranded by the side of the road. Should this happen in freezing cold temperatures without a street light in sight, you’ll be glad you prepped and packed for all possible scenarios. Keep your phone charged, carry a torch, pack a first aid kit, keep some blankets in your car and ensure you’ve even food and drink to keep you going until help arrives.