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Winter driving tips

Stay safe whilst driving in adverse weather with these handy winter driving tips

Whether you are heading off on holiday to somewhere snowy or preparing for a cold winter at home, it is very important to take additional precautions on the roads. It is always worthwhile to get your car ready for winter weather a couple of weeks in advance, so that you can drive safely once that cold weather hits. Below, you will find five essential tips for driving safely when the roads are icy and the visibility is poor. If you need any more help for winter driving, then Motoring Assist has all the information that you need.

  1. Only drive when you need to

It is much safer to do all of your fortnight’s shopping in one big go when the weather is relatively fine than venturing out on icy roads every couple of days. So cut back on non-essential driving and spend more time at home. There is no need for this to be boring at all: make the most of your time with festive dinner and drinks parties, winter walks and movie nights. If the weather is adverse for a long period of time, you could always try and do all of the activities listed in this article: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/30-fun-things-home.html

  1. Stay informed

Make it your business to listen to the latest travel and weather news, so that you do not get caught unawares by road closures, icy conditions, or impending snowstorms. If you have a smartphone, why not download a travel and weather app so you can stay updated in real time? Here are a few options: http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows/best-weather-apps-for-travelers. Though, it goes without saying that nobody should use their smartphone whilst driving.

  1. Keep some essential supplies in the boot

When winter is around the corner, make sure to put some cold weather supplies in your boot and leave them there. You may never have to use them but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Handy items include a shovel for clearing snow and some sand, grit or salt to give you extra grip on icy roads. If you do become stuck in the cold whilst driving – whether due to a breakdown or due to adverse weather – it is very useful to have a blanket, some warm clothes, some food and water, some jump leads, a fully charged mobile phone and a first aid kit to hand. As it can get dark pretty early in winter, a torch is also a good idea – make sure you have enough batteries for it. Fitting your vehicle with extra durable winter tyres is a very good idea too as these provide additional grip. Here are some ideas for stocking your first aid kit: http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/990.aspx?categoryid=72&subcategoryid=725.

  1. Give other road users more space

Reaction and braking times tend to be slower in the winter, due to poor visibility and less grip on the roads. So, when driving make sure to leave more room than you usually would between yourself and the vehicles in front of you. Let snow ploughs and similar vehicles have all the room that they need so that the roads can be cleared as quickly as possible of any snowy obstructions. Pay extra attention to the car in front in case they start to slide, swerve or brake suddenly.

  1. Take more breaks

When it is cold outside, often you want nothing more than to get home as quickly as possible. But, it is very important to factor in a break from driving at least every 4 hours. Bear in mind the fact that in the winter, driving times can be much longer than normal due to the need to drive more slowly and carefully on snowy and icy roads. So, though you may not usually require a break during your journey to visit your family, in the winter this journey may well be much longer and a tea and coffee break will be needed to ensure that you stay alert at the wheel. Falling snow can be dazzling to drivers, so if you feel yourself falling asleep at the wheel or finding it hard to concentrate make sure to pull over into a safe place and have a break before you start driving again. Taking a thermos of hot coffee and something interesting to read with you is a good idea. The coffee will wake you up and the reading matter will enable you to spend 15 minutes or so recuperating so that you can return to the road refreshed.