Driving during the winter months is always hazardous, with two of the biggest hazards being ice and hail – in particular, black ice. Ice, especially black ice, is particularly difficult to spot so it’s easy to lose control of your vehicle if you don’t take the necessary precautions. However, this doesn’t mean you should take any less care when driving in snow or slush.
Because it can’t be seen – at least not easily, anyway – a lot of drivers don’t realise when they’re driving on ice and therefore don’t alter their speed accordingly. Here are a few useful tips that could be useful if you find yourself driving in icy conditions this winter:
- Only drive when absolutely necessary
- If conditions become too dangerous, don’t be afraid to turn back
- Make sure your windows, roof and headlights are completely clear of snow and ice before you set off on any journey
- If you’re travelling to meet someone, let them know when you set off and when you expect to arrive. This way, if you don’t arrive within reasonable time, they’ll know you could be in trouble and will try to contact you to make sure you’re okay
- Usual braking and stopping distances do not apply on icy roads so you should always leave a larger gap between you and any vehicles ahead of you – in serious conditions you may need to leave 10 times the normal gap in front of you
- Avoid any quick manoeuvres; your accelerator, clutch and braes should be applied slowly and smoothly to avoid unnecessary complications
- If you skid, avoid sharply applying the brakes because this is a sure-fire way to ensure you lose all control. Instead, steer gently into it (i.e. if the rear end is sliding to the left, steer to the left) and never take your hands off the steering wheel
- When moving off in ice, selecting a higher gear can help your tyres gain more grip
Hail storms are really dangerous to drive in; if the storm is severe enough it can cause extensive damage to your car and could cause injury to you if you leave your vehicle. If you plan to travel during a forecast storm then, just as you would if you were travelling in snow or icy conditions, inform someone when you set off and of your intended route so that you can be found in an emergency.
Because the world doesn’t stop for hail, bear these tips in mind if you do find yourself caught in a storm:
- In severe storms, stop driving and pull over in a safe place. If possible, stop under a bridge or in an area that’s sheltered
- During a severe hail storm water levels rise quickly so, to avoid getting stuck, it’s a good idea to keep your car away from any ditches
Following this advice should hopefully keep you safe if you find yourself driving over icy roads or in a hail storm over winter. However, should you come into any difficulty and require legal assistance, don’t hesitate to give us a call.