The winter months are a busy time for many, with millions relying on their car daily. But how many of us are really prepared for all the surprises Mother Nature can throw at us whilst we’re driving?
Here are a few things you can do to reduce the risk of having an accident whilst driving in poor conditions.
Before you set off
- Check your lights are working, and are clean, to ensure maximum visibility
- Make sure your battery is fully charged
- Fit new wiper blades, and make sure all parts of the windscreen wiper are in full working order
- Tyres are the only contact your car has with the road, so they should be in good condition, have at least 1.6mm tread depth (experts recommend 3mm for winter driving) and be inflated to the correct pressure. Don’t forget to check your spare!
- Top up all your fluids. According to the RAC, a third of the cars they attend at the roadside are low on oil.
- Clear all windows and mirrors completely! Running the air con can help stop windows misting over from the inside.
- Take advantage of petrol stations long before your warning light comes on. Cars use more fuel in the cold, and the last thing you want is to run out in the dark and cold.
- Avoid using cruise control on wet, slippy roads
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Accelerating slowly is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids.
- Listen to traffic reports on the radio to help you avoid dangerous sections of road.
- 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.
- 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 conditions making driving too difficult.
- Give the driver in front plenty of room – experts recommend up to 10 times the normal stopping distance in snow and ice.
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Published 12 December 2018