Winter is a magical time but it can also bring some extreme weather conditions so it’s the time for extra care on the roads writes Geraldine Herbert
- Plan your journey – is there a route with less exposure to the weather and less risk of fallen trees? Choose a sheltered route if you have the option.
- Be aware of the danger posed by debris that may have blown into the roadway.
- Wind rarely blows steadily, and a sudden gust can catch out even the most experienced driver. Expect sudden gusts at any time, but particularly on open stretches of road, when passing bridges or gaps in hedges or when overtaking high-sided vehicles. Make sure both hands are in the correct position on the wheel.
- High-sided vehicles are most affected by windy weather, so be aware that strong gusts can blow them into your path, but high gusts can also throw a car off particularly aware of this on open stretches of road exposed to strong cross winds.
- Be aware that your car may be affected by turbulence created by large vehicles, so keep well back from them and take extra caution when overtaking.
- Controlling your speed is an important factor – reducing your speed will provide additional stability.
Snow and Ice
- Ensure your windows are clean and clear, and that you have all-round visibility before you set off. Also take the time to clear snow off the roof of your car.
- When driving in snow, get your speed right – not too fast that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when it is needed
- From stationary, start gently and avoid high revs. Stay in a higher gear to avoid skidding and maximise control. If it is very slippery, in a manual car move off in a higher gear, rather than just using first.
- If you get yourself into a skid, the main thing to remember is to take your foot off the pedals and steer. Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.
- Double or even triple your normal stopping distance from the vehicle in front so you are not relying on your brakes to be able to stop; it simply may not happen!
- It’s better to think ahead as you drive to keep moving, even if it is at walking pace.
- Plan your journey around busier roads as they are more likely to have been gritted. Avoid using short cuts on minor roads – they are less likely to be cleared or treated with salt, especially country lanes and housing estates.
- Bends are a particular problem in icy conditions – slow down before you get to the bend, so that by the time you turn the steering wheel you have already lost enough speed.
- On a downhill slope get your speed low before you start the descent, and do not let it build up – it is much easier to keep it low than to try and slow down once things get slippery.
Heavy rain and floods
- Drive on the highest section of the road and don’t set off if a vehicle is approaching you
- Leave time and space to avoid swamping other cars and pedestrians
- Drive slowly and keep going once you have started – make sure you have a clear run. In a manual car, keep the revs high by “slipping the clutch” (which means the clutch is not fully engaged) all the time you are in the water
- If you can’t see where you are going to come out of the water, such as when approaching flooding on a bend, think twice about starting to drive into it
- In deep water never take your foot off the accelerator, as this could allow water to travel up the exhaust pipe
- Once you’re out of the water, dry the brakes before you need them. The best way is to lightly apply the brake as you drive along for a few seconds, after checking nothing is following you too closely
For more driving advice check out our Driving Tips Section here
13th December, 2018