Drive safely this winter
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It's not just about keeping warm in the winter, but being safe when you're out and about.
With icy and sometimes snowy conditions, making sure you take care when on the road is just as important.
Check out these top tips for driving safely when out and about this winter.
Check your tyres
Remember your only contact with the road surface is your tyres so it’s vital that they are up to the task in icy and snowy conditions. Check tyres, including a spare wheel, and replace them if the tread depth falls below 3mm. Check your tyres are inflated to the correct tyre pressure; lack of grip can occur even on treated roads so drive slowly in the highest gear possible, manoeuvre gently and avoid harsh braking. Replace your tyres if necessary.
See your way clearly
Clear your windows and mirrors before you set out, carry a screen scraper and de-icer. Do not use hot water on the windscreen as it can crack the glass. Replace wiper blades if necessary and de-mist the inside of your windows thoroughly. Make sure your windshield washer system works and is full of an anti-icing fluid. The glare from the sun can be dazzling in the winter when the sun is low in the sky, so wear sunglasses in these conditions.
Check your lights
Use your dipped headlights so that others will see you. Make sure your headlights and taillights are all in working order, replace broken bulbs. Make sure lights are clear of snow.
Take it gently
Manoeuvre gently, slow down and leave extra distance between you and the vehicle in front, avoiding harsh braking, acceleration and excessive steering. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Select a low gear when travelling downhill especially if through bends. Do not hang on to the tail lights of the vehicle in front of you as it can give a false sense of security. When you slow down, use your brakes so that the brake lights warn drivers behind you.
Beware of ‘black ice’
If the road looks polished or glossy it could be, ‘black ice’ one of winters worst hazards: black ice is difficult to see! It is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. Watch out for black ice, especially in sheltered and shaded areas on roads, under trees and adjacent to high walls.
Know your brakes
If you get into a skid, you need to know if your vehicle has ABS (Anti- Lock Braking Systems). After you "step" on the brake the ABS begins working — you will feel pulses in the pedal or hear the system working. It's easy to properly use antilock brakes: remember - Step, Stay and Steer. Step on the pedal. Stay on the pedal. Steer around the obstacle.
How does your vehicle help?
Check in your owner’s manual and find out if your vehicle has any safety assist technology like Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or ABS and know how they assist your driving in severe weather conditions. But remember technology offers no miracles. Don't let these lull you into overestimating the available traction.
In prolonged icy or snowy driving conditions it is advisable to carry the following in the boot of the car:
- · High visibility vest
- · Tow rope
- · Spare bulbs
- · Spare fuel
- · A hazard warning triangle
- · Appropriate footwear in case you have to leave your vehicle i.e. boots
- · De-icing equipment
- · A working torch
- · A car blanket, additional clothing and some food and water
In preparation for driving you should ensure:
- · The vehicle is properly maintained, serviced and engine oil viscosity is suitable for cold conditions.
- · Have the correct strength of coolant and antifreeze
- · Ensure vehicle has adequate supply of fuel for journey.
- · Consider carrying some salt or sand.
- · Give someone an estimated time of arrival at your proposed destination. Always carry a mobile phone with enough battery power.
Listen to local weather and traffic reports. Stay tuned to channels which offer regular updates.
Stay at home
The best thing to do in extremely bad weather is to stay off the road and call the office. Take heed of warnings not to go out. This leaves the emergency services free to deal with real emergencies instead of rounding up stranded motorists.
To find out more about your home this winter, including keeping warm and saving on your bills, check out our Winter Hub.