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Winter Driving: How to Stay Safe on the Road

Driving in the Snow

When it comes to getting behind the wheel during the winter months, there are several changes that you need to make to the way in which you drive. This will not only help to keep you safe, but also protects your passengers and other road users too.

Here are a few suggestions to how you can stay safe when winter driving

Watch the Road

It goes without saying that when the weather is cold outside it is absolutely essential that you keep your eyes on the road. Black ice is a particular danger as it can appear invisible, especially if it is under a light coat of snow, but being alert and aware of the road in front of you can give you plenty of time to react to any hazards or obstacles.

How to drive in the snow

Wherever possible, you should try to avoid driving when it is snowing as your vision can be seriously restricted. However, if you do need to venture out then there are several changes you need to make to your driving, such as:

  • Maintain a consistent speed – avoid sharp braking or acceleration. It is imperative that your speed is high enough that you don’t risk losing momentum, but not so fast that you may lose control.
  • Start driving very gently, avoiding high revs or quick bursts of speed.
  • If you do begin to skid then remove your feet from both pedals and concentrate your attention on steering – try to point the vehicle into the direction of the skid.
  • Keep a lot of distance between you and the vehicle in front – approximately two to three times the usual distance.
  • Do not rely on ABS to gain traction in snow as it is not as effective on slippery surfaces.
  • Try to stick to busier roads that have been gritted and cleared
  • Keep the vehicle in the highest possible gear as this will allow for better control, if you have an automatic then it is beneficial to manually override the gear changes whenever possible.
  • On a downhill slope make sure you slow beforehand and carefully use the brake and gears to keep your momentum down.

What to do if the weather is really bad

If at any point, when driving in the snow, you begin to feel uncomfortable or unsafe then slowly pull your vehicle over and come to a stop. You may need to finish the journey on foot or simply wait out any falling snow, in order to make this safe you should have an emergency kit in your car. This should include:

  • Warm clothing and blankets
  • Food (long life dry goods are ideal) and water
  • Walking boots
  • A torch
  • A small shovel
  • First aid kit
  • Road salt, sand or snow traction treads
  • Jumper cables
  • Car phone charger

When in a vehicle that has stopped, make sure that the snow does not cover the exhaust pipe as the carbon monoxide fumes could come back into the car, posing serious health risks. If you do need rescuing then call 101 and follow their instructions.

If you are especially worried about your car in the winter you can bring it to Nathaniels and we will do a thorough Winter check for you.

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