Heavy rain, high winds, and ice and snow, can make driving conditions extremely treacherous. Most people aren’t likely to go on an advanced driving course, but it’s still a good idea to be as informed as possible on the best ways to control and drive your car if you’re on the roads in bad weather.
Top bad weather driving tips
Here are a number of tips to help keep you safe when Britain’s weather does its worst, broken down by weather-type, followed by how a crash might affect your insurance cover.
1. Heavy rain
Don’t try and drive quickly through deep standing water as it can actually push water into your engine and flood it. Slow and steady is best.
Avoid driving through deeper water at all costs.
If you can, try and drive towards the edge of what looks like deep water as it could be shallower.
If you breakdown, try and keep the bonnet shut while waiting for assistance as it will help keep the car’s electrics dry.
Follow advice on radio and online regarding roads hit by torrential rain and flooding.
Always keep a greater distance than usual between your car and the car in front if it’s wet.
Test your brakes after coming out of deep, or deeper-than-standing, water.
If your engine cuts out after driving through water, don’t try and re-start immediately. Wait for assistance or at least give the engine time to drain.
2. High wind
Use extreme caution if overtaking, or driving behind high sided vehicles.
Drive at a slower speed than usual as strong wind gusts can seriously affect your car’s handling.
Drive in a ‘prepared’ state: grip the wheel firmly in the recommended ’10 minutes to 2’ position to allow for the car shifting in the wind.
Make sure you give cyclists and motorcyclists much more room than usual as they can get blown sideways.
Allow for extra distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
Avoid bridges and exposed areas of land at all costs.
Watch out for road debris.
Listen to warnings from the police and local emergency services and avoid affected routes if possible.
Reduce your speed drastically.
Use snow chains if possible.
Keep in a high gear and use low revs.
Accelerate gently using very low revs to avoid wheel spin.
Steer into a skid, not in the opposite direction (which will just make the skid worse). Try and avoid using the breaks.
The RAC recommends you use 10 times the normal distance between you and the next car.
Check you know how to activate and use your fog lights (these aren’t the same as your ‘full-beam’ settings).
Keep headlights dipped so as not to dazzle oncoming road users and pedestrians.
Do not ‘follow’ the tail lights of the car in front; you might simply follow the vehicle into a ditch or crash incident, or naturally drive too close so you can see their lights.
If visibility is extremely restricted wind down your windows, especially at junctions and crossings, so you can hear potentially approaching traffic.
Don’t be afraid to stop driving completely and park in a safe place if fog is making driving impossible.
Ice is extremely treacherous for cars, for obvious reasons, so do not drive in icy conditions if you can avoid it.
Keep heating fans on to help keep windows clear.
As with snow, you need to leave around 10 times the normal stopping distance between your car and the vehicle in front.
Steer into a skid, not in the opposite direction, which it’s the driver’s natural instinct to do.
Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel and try and avoid sharp use of the brakes.
Higher gears are generally better for control and grip.
Winter weather and claiming on your car insurance
What many motorists don’t realise is that if they crash in bad weather and make a claim on their car cover, they’ll have to prove that it was the conditions that led to damage, and not their own actions.
In other words, an insurer will want to make sure that you couldn’t have avoided the incident if you had driven more responsibly and taken all the precautions reasonably expected.
So make sure you take pictures, draw diagrams and get witness statements to back up your case.
However, if you drove through a fairly deep puddle and ruined the engine, but a puddle which wasn’t deep enough to cause damage if you had driven more slowly, you’re in all likelihood not going to be successful!
The customer service team at Policy Expert is always on hand to help – either online or over the phone. Whether you want assistance in finding the right policy or even handling a claim, we make sure it’s all handled by experts. For more information speak to one of our experts on 0330 0600 600 or email firstname.lastname@example.org