How to survive the cold weather

How To Drive Safely During Winter In The UK

The first bit of frost has hit both our cars and the roads this morning, meaning you may have had to scrape away at your windscreen or crack out the de-icer spray before your commute to work today. But with the roads soon to be dangerous and slippery from a layer of ice and possibly even snow, it’s important to stay safe and so we’ve compiled 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, but rather than rushing and making up for lost time we recommend you leave the house earlier to allow yourself plenty of time to defog your windows and move off safely. Road rage is never acceptable and other motorists will also drive at a slower pace than normal during icy conditions, which is rightly so, which is why it’s never a good idea to try and make up for lost time on the road. To help with condensation or foggy windows inside the car you could use dehumidifier tubs or bags which will absorb moisture, and if you have air conditioning be sure to use that as it will help clear windows faster.

Keep the inside of your car windows clear with one of these

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 do need to buy some, be sure to buy ones which specialise in lower temperatures relative to the area you live in. For example; in England you can get away with -5°C or -10°C however, in other places you may find that you need something stronger. The good news is that you can find screenwash rated as low as -30°C meaning you would have no problems using your screenwash in very cold weather!

Stay Indoors
British people love to talk about the weather and winter is no exception. Only issue is that we don’t tend to take the change of weather so well, which is why we recommend that once a blanket of snow covers the ground you should only drive if it is necessary. Most drivers just aren’t ready for sudden changes in weather and as a result aren’t prepared in what driving style the conditions require. This means that a normal driving style could result in an unwanted dose of understeer, or oversteer, and a repair bill or written off crash damaged car to accompany that. But, if you’re not driving then you won’t have to face any of these problems and can enjoy a nice cup of tea instead!

This is what oversteer in snow looks like

Handling Skidding
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, such as; steering, braking and accelerating. Do not make any 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 can 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.

Extra Equipment
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.

Compact jump starters are perfect for personal use

Remember – 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.

Is there anything you use which you think should make this list? Let us know in the comments!

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