With the cold weather well and truly here, drivers need to be prepared for snow and icy conditions. So if conditions are bad and you can’t avoid going out in your car, you should at least make sure you’re clued up on how to deal with snow and ice.
After all, we have a reputation in the UK for being ill-equipped for snowy weather so let’s take a few minutes to combat the stereotype and learn how to drive in extreme conditions.
How to defrost your car
Before you can set out in snow or ice, chances are you’ll need to defrost your car.
To avoid this taking a long time in the morning, a good tip is to place a cover over your windscreen overnight to prevent frost or ice forming on the glass. Even an old sheet will do.
Secondly, don’t be tempted to leave your engine running outside to save time while you get ready for work or eat your breakfast. This leaves your vehicle vulnerable to thieves and accidents.
Also remember to keep a spare de-icer and scraper in your car just in case it ices over again during the day.
How to brake
Once you’ve defrosted your car and you’re out on the road, remember that icy roads have less friction and you’ll have to brake more carefully.
Try not to drive too fast and if you need to stop or slow down, brake more slowly than you would normally. Less friction means you’ll need longer to stop and any sudden braking could cause your car to skid.
Stay safe by staying on main roads as much as possible as these are most likely to have been gritted.
How to control a skid
If the roads are slippy, there’s always a chance that you might skid – particularly when the snow freezes and turns to ice.
Skidding can cause your vehicle to move uncontrollably, often as a result of heavy braking, so it’s important to know how to regain control. If your car skids, this is how you should react:
- Stay calm
- Steer in the direction of the skid
- Keep your feet off the pedals to make the most of engine braking
- Keeping your car well-maintained and having an ABS (anti-lock braking system) will help prevent skidding, but you should still learn how to control it just in case.
Things to keep in your car
Finally, there are certain things you should keep in your vehicle in cold weather, just in case you break down.
If you’re stuck at the side of the road and your engine’s not working, you can’t rely on your car’s heater to keep you warm. Make sure you’ve got a warm jumper or blanket stashed in the boot just in case.
It’s also important to keep your fuel tank topped up – say your vehicle got stuck or you had an accident, plenty of fuel will mean you’ll be able to stay warm.
So there you have it – top advice for driving safely in the winter weather. Do you have any more useful tips for driving in snowy and icy conditions? Please let us know!