Winter Driving Advice

It may be safer to leave the car at home but here’s the advice if you have no choice

The Facts

• The performance of standard tyres deteriorates when the temperature drops below 7 deg C.
• Frost and wet patches can linger in some areas after they have disappeared elsewhere – under trees, crossing bridges, areas exposed to winds, areas shadowed by buildings.
• ABS systems will be less effective on ice and snow, increasing stopping distances.
• Beware black ice, caused by rain falling on an already frozen surface.

The Advice

• Re-fuel the night before the journey; check radio/TV for traffic and weather updates.
• Keep breakdown recovery contact numbers in the vehicle.
• Do a POWDER check: Petrol or diesel for the journey; sufficient Oil and other fluids? Water for washers, radiator, drinking; Damage to lights, windows, mirrors, number plates; Electrics – bulbs, wipers, horn and warning lights, Rubber; tyres, wiper blades.
• Remove ice and snow from all windows before moving off; keep windows clear thereafter.
• Set dashboard air outlets towards door windows to improve wing mirror visibility.
• Use dipped headlights so that others can see you.
• Only travel at a speed at which you will be able to stop within the distance you can see to be clear.
• Avoid harsh braking and acceleration or aggressive steering, as these actions can lead to skids; reduce your speed smoothly and use brakes gently.
• Drive in the highest gear as soon as possible but ensure it offers engine braking when the accelerator is released, crucial when descending slopes or hills.
• When in snow and ice, use engine braking through the gears; just touch the brake pedal lightly to show brake lights to others behind.
• A lack of road noise could indicate the presence of ice. Increase your following distance by ten times when driving on ice.
• If surface grip reduces, or is lost, the steering will become light; respond by coming off the accelerator and ensure any steering is gentle.
• On a journey, take: high visibility jacket, torch, mobile phone & camera, warning triangle, spare bulbs, serviceable spare tyre and first aid kit.
• Other essential equipment: de-icer & screen wash, shovel, non-slip carpet or mat to place under driving wheels if stuck, foil blanket, high grip boots/shoes, snow chains/tyre socks, jump leads and tow rope.