As colder weather and darker nights approach, drivers should prepare their cars for winter to reduce the risk of an accident or an unnecessary repair bill.
Crucially, drivers need to know how to alter their driving style in order to stay safe when dealing with extreme weather. Many people don’t realise that stopping distances can be ten times longer in ice and snow.
· Save the snooze – getting up at least ten minutes earlier might feel tortuous when it’s cold outside, but it gives you time to prepare before you set off.
· Plan ahead – check out the local news for traffic updates and weather warnings. Plan routes which favour main roads, as they are more likely to be gritted and cleared of snow and ice first.
· Adapt your style – gentle manoeuvres are key to safe driving. If you get stuck in snow, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip.
· Kit out the car – besides an ice scraper and de-icer, it’s worth carrying a mobile phone with a fully charged battery and in-car charger, torch, first-aid kit, tow rope, blankets, warm coat/boots, jump leads, snow shovel, warning triangle, an old sack or rug (to put under the wheels if you get stuck) and water repellent spray.
Motorists should also take care to prepare their vehicle for winter:
· Check your car before each journey to ensure it is prepared for the conditions.
· Check your windscreen wipers regularly, and switch them to the ‘off’ position when parked to avoid freezing.
· Check your headlights, not only to see if they are working, but also that they are cleaned and aimed correctly.
· Keep your number plates clean as well, as you can be fined if they are dirty and illegible.
· Use a good quality de-icer and proper scraper to clean the glass, and be sure to rid your bonnet and roof of any snow, as it can fall down and obscure your vision through the windscreen.
· Check your tyre tread depths and tyre pressures regularly; if your tyres are damaged or worn it can seriously affect your vehicle safety and handling. Check tyre pressures at least once a month when the tyres are cold.
· You can face a hefty fine if your tyres don’t meet the legal tread depth requirement. The tread should measure 1.6mm throughout a continuous strip in the centre three quarters of the tread around the entire tyre circumference.
“Winter driving throws all sorts of challenges at road users, from wet, icy roads to dazzling sun and poor visibility,” said Gil Kelly, Operations Director for Venson Automotive Solutions. “Planning ahead can make all the difference, and includes making sure the vehicle is properly maintained and that regular vehicle checks are carried out.”