Winter is among us and this means that you need to be extra cautious when hitting the roads! Even the most experienced driver can make mistakes during the colder season, from following too closely behind another vehicle to having insufficient traction. Packed snow has approximately 30% of the traction that dry pavement has, proving the importance of focusing on preparation and prevention. If you will be making the trip to see friends and family over the next few weeks/months, stop a snowy jaunt from turning into a dangerous drive with the following tips for driving in winter:
1. Visibility – Poor visibility is one of the most common reasons why people encounter problems on the roads during winter. Ice, snow and condensation can restrict your field of view. With the windscreen being one of the most important aspects of the car, it’s vital that you inspect it before setting off on long journeys. Make sure your screen is washed and anti-freeze is topped off, and get cracks or chips repaired as soon as you notice them. Spend at least five minutes de-fogging the windows and refrain from pouring hot water on icy windscreens, as this can cause cracks to appear.
2. Tires – If you don’t have the funds to invest in winter tires, make the most of the tires you have. Check tire pressure regularly, because insufficient pressure will affect traction, vehicle handling and stopping distance. Replace tires if the tread wear indicators are exposed and make sure a spare tire is accessible in the event of a problem. Snow socks can be purchased cheaply and will make driving easier
3. Preparation – One of the best tips for driving in winter is car preparation. By doing this you can minimize the chances of a breakdown. Test the brakes and lights before setting off. Clean the windscreen wiper blades to improve visibility when on the road and ensure fluids are topped off. Avoid delays by charging the battery and filling the fuel tank.
4. Emergency Kit – Potential problems are unpredictable and if the weather conditions are severe, it may take a while for emergency services to arrive. An emergency kit will prove useful for long road journeys. In the event of a storm or flood you may be stranded in your car overnight. A blanket and clothing will keep you warm, water will keep you hydrated and emergency rations will satisfy hunger pangs. Tips for driving in winter include storing a fully-charged mobile phone, boots, shovel, tow rope, hazard warning triangle, first-aid kit and towing equipment in the car.
5. Snow – It’s not uncommon for snow to fall during winter and if this happens when you are already on the road, it’s imperative that you reduce speed, keep your vehicle well-ventilated, avoid harsh braking and acceleration, and increase the space between you and the vehicle in front. Should you get stuck in snow, use a shovel to move snow away from the tires and put the vehicle in the highest gear, while moving backwards and forwards slowly. Remember, “Ice and snow. Take it Slow.”