Driving in the winter months can be hazardous and if you are a new driver, you might feel nervous if you have to drive in winter weather. Whether that be heavy rain, snow or ice.
One of the most important things is to be prepared and leave plenty of time for your journey. Here’s our advice on making sure you stay safe on the road.
Before You Start Your Journey
Before you set off to your destination, here are some things to think about –
- Firstly, consider whether your journey is absolutely necessary. Or could it wait until conditions improve?
- Check your route – if it’s icy there may be reported incidents on your journey or areas that will not have been gritted if it’s icy. Check this beforehand.
- Allow extra time for your journey.
- Make sure you have a fully charged phone in case you need to stop and use it in an emergency.
- Tell your family where you’re travelling to and your estimated arrival time.
- Make sure your fuel tank is full and if you need to stop to refuel, allow time for this in your journey.
- Check your wiper blades are clean and in good condition. For more advice on this, click here.
- Check your screen wash is topped up.
- Wear comfortable and dry footwear.
Driving In Wet Weather
As is typical of the UK, we do experience our fair share of wet weather, particularly in the winter months. If you drive in very wet conditions, be sure to –
- Use dipped headlights so that you are visible to other drivers.
- Don’t use rear fog lights as they can hide when you are braking and dazzle vehicles behind you.
- Drive slowly through flood water, particularly deep water. Driving at speed could cause damage to your engine. If you’re not sure if the water is deep, don’t drive through it.
- Never drive through fast-flowing water.
- Test your brakes after leaving flood water to check they are working properly.
- Stay a safe distance from the car in front of you. In wet weather stopping distances are at least double, so leave at least a 4-second gap.
- Be considerate when driving past pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders – don’t splash them.
Driving In Snow And Ice
Driving in freezing temperatures isn’t without its risks and it can be dangerous to drive in very cold weather. Icy roads mean you could be prone to skidding and knowing how to drive safely in these conditions is important.
- Clean any snow from your car before you start your journey.
- Remove windscreen and window ice with an ice scraper.
- Drive slowly.
- Check whether your car has a winter mode, if not, make sure that you move off in second gear to reduce wheel slip.
- Maintain a safe distance from you and the car in front. Your safe stopping distance will be reduced in icy weather conditions, so leave up to 10 times the normal recommended gap as tyres grip less efficiently in cold conditions.
- Use a low gear when driving downhill and avoid braking unnecessarily.
- Brake before you turn into a bend. If your car feels like it is losing its grip, stay calm and take your foot off of the accelerator.
- Use dipped headlights in heavy snow to stay visible to other drivers.
- Turn your fog lights on if visibility drops significantly – below 100 metres.
For more advice on staying safe and avoiding a breakdown as temperatures drop, check out this article from the AA.