As the wintery weather sets in, Britain’s roads are starting to become a little bit more dangerous. Here, Mark Barclay from GSF Car Parts gives his expert advice to help you stay safe while driving this winter.
Britain is no stranger to adverse weather conditions, especially in winter. But, this year set to be particularly cold and dangerous, with experts predicting 14°C weather and round two of the Beast from the East (Express). So, you’ll need to be careful when out on the roads.
Whether you’re new to the world of driving or a more experienced road user, below, I’ll be going through the key points you’ll need to bear in mind to keep yourself (and other drivers) safe this winter.
Perform the initial checks
Make sure to check the weather before getting into your vehicle to make sure it’s safe to drive. If there are any blizzards or particularly dangerous conditions forecast for when you’re due to be out on the roads, it might be worth staying at home and rescheduling your journey for another time. Even if the conditions are fine, I’d recommend planning your journey following main roads, which are more likely to be gritted.
If the roads are safe to drive on, then you should still make sure you perform a few initial checks before setting off. Make sure:
- Your windows, roof and number plates are completely free of snow or ice;
- You have plenty of fuel to get you to your destination;
- All of your lights are cleared of snow and that they’re working as they should be;
- There’s plenty of antifreeze in the engines cooling system to prevent your engine from freezing up and cracking;
- Your tyres have at least 3mm of tread to give you enough grip on slippery roads;
Before setting off, make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and let people know your estimated time of arrival. This means you can let people know if you’re going to be a little longer, and you can call the emergency services if anything happens.
When there’s snow and ice on the roads, you’ll need to drive carefully to reduce the likelihood of an accident. Setting off in second gear rather than first can help you keep control and prevent wheelspin. Then, accelerate slowly – staying below the speed limit – and brake gently when you need to, as this will prevent you from skidding on icy roads. Remember, your stopping distance should be 10 times longer than normal in icy conditions. This should give you time to correct yourself if you do start to skid.
When you reach a corner, sudden or harsh turning could cause you to lose control of your vehicle if there is ice on the road. So, try to slow down enough that you can select a lower gear before reaching the bend. If you do skid, steer into it to correct the movement.
If you’re driving in foggy or snowy conditions, your visibility may be reduced. So, make sure you use your headlights or fog lights so you can be seen by other drivers.
If you’re ever unsure about driving in the snow or ice, you might want to take an additional driving course or download a driving theory test app like WeDrive. This way, you can refresh your knowledge and ask for advice from more experienced drivers if you’re worried about certain conditions. Just remember to use the app before setting off or once you’ve pulled over to avoid using your phone while driving
Take along some extras
When you’re driving in adverse weather conditions, it helps to be as prepared as you possibly can, so you might want to take along a few extra items in case you get stuck in the snow or breakdown. Make sure you pack a high-vis vest or hazard warning sign to alert other drivers and recovery teams to your location. You may also need to pack a shovel so you can dig yourself out if you get caught in a snow drift, and a first aid kid just in case you receive any minor injuries.
I’d also recommend taking along a spare jumper or blanket, a few snacks, a bottle of water and a flask of tea or coffee in case you’re waiting a while for a recovery team to reach you. It’ll also keep your energy up and help you stay warm on longer journeys.
When the cold weather sets in, Britain’s roads can be dangerous. But, by following the tips in this guide, you can keep yourself safe behind the wheel this winter.