Winter has now very much arrived and after a mild year – one that’s actually set to be the warmest on record – the plummeting temperatures have certainly come as a bit of a shock. This is an article topic that circulates pretty much every type of publication, every winter; but that’s because it’s something that people always forget. You can’t drive your car in the winter the same way as you can in the summer – you just can’t – and if you try to, you’re likely to be contacting us to help you with a claim soon after.
Ideally, in the snow, you should try not to drive at all. If you absolutely have to then make sure you check your route before travelling and pack a few emergency supplies into your car, just in case – also, make sure you have our number noted down just in case you are involved in an accident. Follow our key tips that’ll help you stay out of trouble, but most importantly, if it seems to dangerous, just don’t do it.
Before you set off
It’s not just the journey itself that can be treacherous during the winter months. If you don’t take the right precautions before setting off, you could be putting yourself in a lot more danger than is necessary.
Driving in the snow and ice is scary enough, so there’s really no need to add to the danger. The majority of places – on lower ground, at least – have been lucky enough to have escaped the snowfall so far this year. However, that’s unlikely to last long, so it’s important to check your tyre tread depth to ensure they’ll have enough grip to support you. If you live on high ground or in an area where heavy snow is common, it might be worth getting new tyres or even swapping to winter tyres which have a much deeper tread.
There’s perhaps nothing more irritating than the filth that covers your car during winter. The combination of ice, snow and grit all over the roads makes a lovely concoction that you need to get used to finding all over your car for the next few months. Although annoying, the dirt is tolerable, even the white, dusty residue that you’ll find on the windscreen can be dealt with, until it reduces visibility significantly. At that point, all too often, people reach to squirt their windscreen only to find the water s frozen. Be prepared. Think about these things now, before it’s too late and you’re ploughing down the motorway unable to see where you’re going. Top up your washer bottle with a good quality screenwash that can remain in a liquid state in low temperatures – the majority of screenwash will be able to sustain temperatures as low as -35⁰C.
Rather than rushing and consequently putting yourself and others in danger, get up a little earlier to allow time to clear your windows of snow and defrost the windscreen if necessary. De-icer and an ice-scraper are glove box must-haves in the winter but if you’re in a real rush lukewarm water will clear your windscreen quickly – never use boiling or hot water.
Along with the practical advice, it’s always good to be equipped with some emergency supplies including:
- De-mister pad
- Torch and batteries
- Ice scraper
- In-car phone charger
- Some non-perishable food – i.e. chocolate, cereal bars, crisps etc. – and water
Driving in the snow
Now, when you’re finally ready to set off, remember these key road rules.
- Refrain from accelerating quickly; too many people think that putting their foot down will help them get on the move quicker – it won’t – accelerate slowly and move up the gears as quickly as possible. If you’re struggling to set off then you might need to select second gear as this will help to stop your wheels from spinning.
- Normal stopping distances do not apply when driving in the snow; sometimes you’ll need to leave as much as 10 times the usual recommended gap between you and the vehicle in front.
- If the road you’re driving on hasn’t been gritted, it’s a good idea to avoid driving in the tyre tracks of other vehicles as the compressed snow is likely to be much more icy, and therefore slippery, than the fresh.
- Sunglasses don’t just protect your eyes from the sun, they’ll also protect them from any glare from the snow as well.