Driving on Winter Roads
Snowy conditions can make driving a real challenge
for motorists and can even lead to an accident.
With this in mind it is crucial to prepare yourself
adequately before embarking on a journey in the snow.
The following tips can help make the journey safer.
Before you set off, plan your journey carefully. Consider areas that are going to be exposed
to the elements, and perhaps prone to flooding.
Leave more time
Allow for more time than you normally would before
you leave to clear car windows, mirrors, lights and the top of
your roof of snow before setting off.
You will also need to de-ice your windscreen and you will
need to take time to clear the inside of your windscreen too as it is illegal
to drive without full visibility through all of your windows.
It’s also a good idea to carry a lock de-icer with you to
clear your lock. If your locks do get frozen, try warming the key or spraying
de-icer or an oil-based lubricant into the lock.
The following checks will also
be time consuming so it is worth factoring them in too before you set off.
Check your wipers
Make sure any auto wiper control
is switched off before turning the ignition on as this could blow the wiper
control fuse if they are frozen to the screen. Your wipers need to be in
good working order so you’re able to clean your windscreen effectively.
Check your tyres
Poor tyres will not grip when
driving on snow and ice.
Check your screen wash
Use a good quality screen wash that protects down to at
least -35 to prevent the water from freezing.
The most important thing to take with you before driving
in snow is
a charged mobile phone.
How to drive in snow
- Wear comfortable and
- Accelerate gently,
use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as possible.
- Move off in second
gear as this will help reduce wheel slip - some cars have a winter mode,
which does the same job – so to check whether your car has this function
in the vehicle’s handbook
- Get your speed
right and maintain safe stopping distances between you and the car in
front, leaving as much as 10 times the normal recommended gap
- Prepare for an uphill
by leaving plenty of room in front so you can maintain a constant speed
without the need for changing gear
- Use a low gear for
going downhill and try to avoid braking unless necessary, make sure you
leave plenty of space between you and the car in front
- When approaching a
bend, brake before you actually start to turn the steering wheel. If your
car does lose grip try not to panic; the key thing is to take your foot
off the accelerator and make sure that your wheels are pointing in the
direction you want to go in
- If you do encounter a
skid, steer gently into it - for example, if the rear of the car is
sliding to the right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the
steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes
- When driving
in heavy snow, make sure that you use your dipped headlights. Relying
on daytime running lights is not enough, because they don’t always put
lights on the back of your car.
- If visibility drops
below a 100m, put your fog lights on. But remember to turn them off when
the visibility improves.
- If the road has not
been gritted, be wary of driving in the wheel tracks or other vehicles as
compressed snow is likely to be more icy than fresh snow
- Controls such as the
brakes, as well as the steering, accelerator and even gear changing should
be operated smoothly and slowly
- Sunglasses can help to reduce the glare of low
winter sun on the snow
- Keep your speed down and allow more time to
stop and steer
- Finally, it’s important to think about the
environment that you’re driving in, especially microclimates that might
appear on the road. These are areas that perhaps the sun hasn’t got to,
which could stay icy when the rest of the road has thawed. Bridges are a
good example. They’re normally the first to freeze and the last to thaw.
So be aware of that when you’re driving in open spaces.