The Ultimate Winter Driving Guide | Snows


The Snows Winter Driving Guide

We've compiled a comprehensive guide to staying safe when driving this Winter. From driving in the dark to reducing the chances off breaking down and what to pack in an emergency breakdown kit, we've got you covered!

DRIVING IN THE DARK

When the clocks go back it's been proven that there is an increase in the number of road users killed or seriously injured. To help you and everyone else around you stay safe, we've compiled a list of safety precautions:

Keep your windows clean – as obvious as this may seem, the build-up of condensation and dirt can impair your visibility without you even realising. Windscreens are particularly susceptible to steaming up and heaters can blow dirty air at the glass, causing a misty hazy to build up and consequently impair vision.

USING YOUR LIGHTS

It's crucial to ensure that your front and rear lights are fully functioning because it's illegal if they don't work. If you find that a bulb needs changing, get in touch with your nearest Snows dealership as soon as possible and we'll be happy to help.

It is advised that drivers turn on their dipped headlights an hour or so before sunset and keep them on for an hour after sunrise to ensure you're visible to other road users. Use full beam on unlit roads but switch back to dipped if you encounter another vehicle so you don't dazzle them.

BE CAUTIOUS OF CHILDREN & ANIMALS

Vulnerable road users such as children, cyclists and cyclists ​are more likely to be involved in accidents at this time of year. Take extra care when driving near schools and in residential areas and be alert just in case someone or something does enter the road ahead of you.

Cyclists can also be more difficult to spot, especially if they're not wearing hi-vis clothing. The same goes for animals, especially on country roads so keep your speed down and be on guard for any sudden movements.

AVOIDING A BREAKDOWN

​Be sure to check the following before heading off on any journey:

​ ​Make sure you have plenty of fuel
​ Check your oil levels and replenish accordingly
​ Ensure your wiper blades are free from cracks and splits
​ It's advised to have min. 3mm of tyre tread in the winter
​ Check your screen wash & coolant levels
​ Ensure all lights are working (in and out)

DON'T DRIVE TIRED

Driving when you're tired not only makes you a danger to yourself but other innocent road users too. If you begin to feel sleepy, stop at the nearest Service Station and take a break.

If you're heading off on a long journey that involves driving in the dark and/or at night then be sure to schedule in rest stops every hour or so. The RAC also advise that you grab a caffeinated drink to stay alert.

DRIVING IN THE SNOW OR ICE

If you have to travel in snowy conditions, leave more time for your journey and anticipate the worst by packing for every possible outcome. The most important thing is making sure that you have a charged mobile phone with the phone number of your breakdown provider stored in it.

Black ice is extremely difficult to identify. When driving in wintery conditions be cautious of glossy, wet patches on the road and don’t hit the brakes as this can cause skidding. If you do skid, drivers should steer into the skid direction to counteract the action and set the car straight​.

You should also consider investing in and using winter tyres, snow socks or snow chains too.

DEMISTING YOUR WINDSCREEN IN DOUBLE-QUICK TIME

Not fully clearing your windscreen before setting off can impede your vision whilst driving which means you'll be driving illegally.

Start off using the heater to blow out cold air, directing the vents towards the windows, and slowly increase the temperature as the air dries out instead of filling the cabin with hot, wet air. Don't forget to turn on the A/C mode as this will help to keep the atmosphere dry but if you don't have air-conditioning just roll down your windows slightly! If you also have a climate control system with a 'demisting the windscreen' button, be sure to use it.

AQUAPLANING & HOW TO AVOID IT

Simply put, aquaplaning (aka hydroplaning) is when your tyres can no longer grip the road surface due to a build up of water between them. This causes a loss of traction and in turn, the driver to lose control of steering, braking and accelerating.

How to tell if your car is aquaplaning:

❄ The engine will suddenly become louder
❄ Revs increase as if you've dropped to a lower gear whilst driving at speed
❄ Steering becomes 'light'
❄ The back end of the car might drift from side to side

How to control aquaplaning:

❄ Gently ease off the accelerator
❄ Don't slam on the brakes
❄ Hold the steering wheel straight
❄ If on, turn off cruise control
❄ When the car begins to gain control, brake slowly to reduce your speed

How to avoid aquaplaning:

❄ Ensure your tyres have a min. 3mm of tread
❄ Don't drive too fast
❄ Drive smoothly and avoid sudden movements

YOU CAN GET FINED FOR DE-ICING YOUR CAR...

As tempting as it may be to start up the car on a frosty morning and head back inside doing so can land you in hot water! Leaving an engine running on an unmanned vehicle on a public road is an offence – plus it leaves you at risk of car theft.

UPHILL STRUGGLE

When driving uphill, do so slowly and with plenty of room in front of you so you can drive at a steady speed and avoid having to stop. Apply extra acceleration as you pull off to give you the power you need and reduce as you come back downhill​.

GEAR CHANGES & PEDAL CONTROL

You may need to drive slowly in a higher gear to give more power to the engine and prevent the car from stalling or skidding. This will also improve grip when pulling off in icy conditions.

Accelerating and braking should be as smooth as possible to avoid skidding and lane diversion. Ensure you’re driving at a safe, slow speed and plan your road moves ahead to stay safe. Braking distances are multiplied by ten for icy conditions so if you are travelling at 20mph you should leave a gap of 120 metres rather than the usual 12.

TOP WINTER DRIVING TIPS:

​ When it's cold, you're likely to use more fuel so be sure to top-up as soon as the warning light comes on

​ If the weather is especially bad it's crucial to plan your journey in advance

​ Stick to main roads as they're more likely to be kept clear and have been gritted



It’s vital to stay safe in this weather and following the above tips as well as taking extra time and care with a journey is the best way to start any journey. If you have any questions or queries, please tap the below button to get in touch!

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Author: Zoë Barrett

Posted on 24/01/2019