As winter’s grip tightens, navigating the roads is particularly challenging for drivers contending with excess rain, snow, black ice, and frost. From identifying hidden risks to preparing your vehicle for the frosty conditions, we’ve compiled the tips below to equip drivers with the knowledge and tools necessary to beat the tricky seasonal conditions ahead.
What to look out for
- Black ice – this thin and transparent layer of ice, typically hard to see, is caused by rain falling on a frozen surface.
- Heavy snow – roads can close for hours after heavy snow, so be prepared to be stuck in traffic for an unpredictable amount of time.
- Frost and wet patches – these are likely to be found in areas, such as under trees, in shadows and under bridges. Be aware of these conditions as they are not always visible!
- Driving in the rain – it can be easy to misjudge the state of the road, especially in wet conditions. Be sure to leave twice as much space from the car in front of you and, if your steering feels light due to aquaplaning, ease off the accelerator and gradually slow down.
Preparing to drive in difficult conditions
- Prepare your vehicle – the night before your journey, be sure to double-check your tyre tread and pressure, refuel or charge your vehicle and check the weather.
- See and be seen – have a de-icer in your screen wash, remove all snow and ice from the entire vehicle (especially the roof, lights and windows), angle heater vents towards side windows to keep them clear, and use dipped headlights to ensure other drivers can see you. Yes, even in the daytime!
- Leave plenty of space – always maintain a safe stopping distance from the car in front of you. In icy or wet conditions, increase that stopping distance by ten seconds. Try to avoid stopping when driving uphill too.
- Breakdown recovery – have your breakdown recovery number saved in your phone and take a backup power source and charger with you just in case.
- Control – avoid harsh acceleration, braking or steering to avoid skidding.
- Speed – At low speeds, driving on fresh snow will provide better grip than driving on compacted snow – which is similar to driving on ice.
- Gears – unless in an automatic vehicle, drive in a high gear in heavy snow.
- Resources – ALWAYS remember to bring water, a hi-vis jacket, mobile phone, a first aid kit and any prescription medicines you made need with you on your journeys.
- Carry out a P.O.W.D.E.R check before you set off:
– Power (fuel or electric)
– Oil & other fluids
– Water for washers (winter mix), radiator & drinking
– Damage to lights, windows, mirrors, number plates
– Electrics – bulbs, wipers, horn and warning lights
– Rubber: tyres, wiper blades
But what if I have an EV?
EVs are generally easier to maintain but naturally still require attention during the winter months. Here are a few quick bits of advice on how you can care for your EV to make your winter driving that little bit safer:
- Check how your car defrosts – many EVs now have a companion app that helps you defrost your car without you needing to step outside! If your car doesn’t have this feature, look online for portable defrosters.
- Beware of range drop – when the EV batteries are colder, they become less effective which can reduce your driving range. Keep an eye on this and plan accordingly.
- Longer charging time – as well as being less effective, cold batteries also take longer to charge. If you’re driving your EV in colder weather than you’re used to, be conscious of the longer charging time needed.
- Double check your options – exploring the touchscreen options in your EV, you may find your car has colder weather options. These will usually make the car aware of power consumption and, potentially, adjust braking if road conditions are slippery.
Driving in winter can certainly have its downsides, but being prepared can help ease on-road anxiety. For more information on how to stay safe on roads, visit www.drivetech.co.uk.