For many of us across the UK, the snow has now fallen, and it is important to stay safe when driving. We appreciate that you have to continue about your daily business and that sometimes you cannot avoid driving in the snow. Although major roads are likely to be gritted, making them safer, if you find yourself driving on the smaller, less used roads, follow our simple tips and hints for staying safe.
This is perhaps one of the most important things that you can do before setting off and can prevent unnecessary accidents. When driving in snowy or icy conditions, you need to have as much grip as possible, so making sure your tyres are in good condition is essential (including your spare tyre). Check for any damage and wear. The law requires a minimum of 1.6mm of tread across 75% of the width of the tyre in adverse conditions. In really bad conditions, you can consider fitting snow chains.
If you know that the weather is due to become bad, make sure you have the essential items in your car, should you find yourself in trouble. These include a blanket, a torch, rope, de-icer, in car mobile phone charger, tyre pump, spare bulbs, jump leads, high visibility vest and a shovel. All of the above items are readily available and you will be grateful you have them should you break down or become stuck.
Do not leave anything down to chance. Make sure you have left plenty of time for your journey as you will be travelling slower than usual and plan your exact route. Try and use a route that you are less likely to get stuck on, and make sure you know road names so you are able to give a detailed description of where you are should you break down.
By avoiding sudden acceleration and braking you are less likely to skid and slide. Driving as smoothly as possible means that you will remain in much better control of your car. However, if you do start to skid, do not panic and brake suddenly; instead, gently lift your foot off the accelerator and steer into the slide. Steering in the opposite direction to try and correct it will cause you to lose control of the car.
This may seem like a fairly obvious one, but increase the distance between you and the vehicle in front. Stopping distances increase hugely in adverse weather conditions, and you will require a much larger gap. At an absolute minimum make sure there is a four second gap between you and the vehicle in front. Do not be tempted to close up the gap, leave enough time for your journey, so you do not feel the need to rush.
Try and stay in a higher gear when driving in snowy and icy conditions as you will have more control of your car. When parked; if you are driving a manual car, pull away in second gear to give your car more traction on snow and ice. Pulling away in first gear may mean that you skid, as there simply would not be enough traction.
Make sure you have plenty of room when you are parking and avoid parking too close to other cars. Your traction and grip will decrease if you are driving in snow and ice and parking too close to other vehicle or object may result in damage to your car or others, should you skid when pulling out of the space. Plus, it gives you plenty of space to get out of your car, should you slip.
de icicng car.jpgMake sure your windscreen, mirrors and both number plates are completely cleared of snow. It is actually illegal to have any of them obscured, and can be dangerous, as you may not be able to see properly, as well as other cars not being able to see you. Use a de-icer or an ice scraper to clear your windscreen, not boiling water as this could result in your windscreen cracking. Ensure the bulbs in your lights are all working, changing them where necessary.
If you are driving anywhere in the snow or ice, or any hazardous conditions, make sure someone knows about your plans and the exact route you are going to take. They can then raise the alarm should you fail to turn up somewhere, making your rescue easier. Make sure that you do not deviate from this route without informing them.
Driving in icy conditions can be trickier than driving in snowy conditions, as it can be difficult to see (especially black ice), making potential accidents harder to prevent. Leave an eight second gap between you and the vehicle in front in icy conditions, check your tyres and leave plenty of time for your journey.
Stay safe when driving in adverse weather conditions. Take it slow, be prepared and watch out for potential dangers. The video below released by the Met Office explains Road Surface Temperatures and gives you an insight into why they become dangerous when the weather is bad.