The first solid bit of frost has hit our cars and roads this morning. You may have had to scrape away at your windscreen or crack out the de-icer spray before commuting to work today. With the roads soon to be dangerous and slippery from a layer of ice and maybe even snow, here are some tips on how to stay safe on the road this winter.
Give Yourself More Time!
Clearing foggy windows and removing ice from your windscreen is sure to set you back a few minutes and other motorists will also drive at a slower pace than normal during icy conditions. Factor in for this before your journeys to ensure you arrive at your destination on time and safely without needing to drive that little bit faster which is definitely not safe in icy or snowy conditions! To help with condensation or foggy windows inside the car you could use dehumidifier tubs or bags which will absorb moisture. Also use air conditioning if you have it to clear windows faster.
Check Your Screenwash
Now is a good time to check your windscreen wash level and top it up if it’s not already full. If you need to buy some, make sure to buy the a low temperature rated screenwash relative to the area you live in. For us here we may be able to get away with -5°C or -10°C, however you can find screenwash rated to as low as -30°C meaning you would have no problems using your screenwash in very cold weather.
Us Brits don’t seem to take to the change so well, so once a blanket of snow covers the ground we would do well to advise that you only drive if it is necessary. Most drivers just aren’t ready for the sudden change in weather and road conditions where normal driving styles could result in an unwanted dose of understeer or oversteer and a repair bill or written off crash damaged car. If you’re not driving you won’t cause any damage, maybe it’s best to do what we’re good at and stay in with a cup of tea instead!
When you hit a patch of ice or compacted snow you may start to skid. When this happens our brains our wired to instinctively hit the brakes – exactly the thing you don’t want to do as this can extend the skid or spin the car! Instead just take your foot off the accelerator while still in gear and allow the car to slow itself down. Smoothly and carefully steering left and right can also help to create more grip and slow you down.
Change Your Driving Style
Slow down and do everything in a smoother fashion, which means steering, braking and accelerating. No sudden turns or erratic use of the accelerator or brakes with gentle clutch control. You don’t want to unbalance the car which will increase your chance of skidding. Driving in a higher gear means you will be using lower revs which help to prevent wheel spin and give yourself more room in between the car in front of you in case they haven’t changed their driving style!
Use Your Lights!
You can use your headlights during the day to make yourself more visible to other drivers. A lot of cars have DRLs (daytime running lights) which are made for this purpose, however you may need to make sure they are set to come on or if you don’t have them just use your normal dipped beam headlights that you usually use during the night.
What would happen if you do break down? We have probably all jumped in our cars in very cold winter without a coat and relied on our heaters and heated seats (if you are lucky!) to comfortably get us to our destination in the warm. If you did break down you could be waiting a few hours without your heater for a recovery service so it would be sensible to keep extra warm clothes in the car along with a fully charged mobile phone, jump leads and making sure your spare tyre is in good condition. Make sure you always carry jump leads in your car, they should really be a standard thing to keep in the boot. You could also store a bottle of drinking water and high energy snacks to have while you wait for a recovery vehicle.
Batteries Don’t Like The Cold
Batteries are prone to failing on drivers in colder icy conditions. In the past people solely relied on jump leads or recovery services to help. Nowadays you can buy mini jump starters that can easily fit in your glovebox. Amazingly these things can jump a car a number of times before needing to recharge them and they also mean you no longer rely on someone else with a working vehicle to jump start you using their car. You can’t go wrong with something like this Anker Compact Jump Starter.
If it does all go wrong and you do have an accident, remember to see what we can offer you before getting a quote for a repair quote!