Winter is here and that means snow and ice aplenty for many areas of the country – something motorists will need to take into account every time they are planning a journey.
It is important for all road users to be aware of the additional dangers they can face at this time of year, so here follows a brief guide to helping all vehicle operators stay as safe as possible during what can be one of the more treacherous seasons for travellers.
Prepare your car for winter
One of the key elements of winter road safety is in ensuring one’s vehicle is up to facing the rigours of what the winter elements will have to throw at it. As a result, drivers are advised to carry out a number of essential regular checks to keep their car in top working order throughout the colder months.
An area where individuals should pay close attention is that of the battery and electrics, as colder temperatures will mean the battery charge is depleted that much faster. It is for this reason that car owners are advised to change their battery at least every five years, while its connections should be regularly cleaned and checked for signs of corrosion.
Elsewhere, examine the tyres to ensure they are free from any excessive wear and tear and have a good amount of tread depth – the UK legal minimum is 1.6 mm – as the likelihood of wet roads means poor levels of tread can have a serious impact on areas like handling and braking.
It is also important to top up levels of oil, water, coolant and antifreeze in the engine, as each of these liquids plays an essential role in keeping a vehicle running smoothly all through the year.
Safer driving in snow
The colder climes of winter can present a real risk of snow and ice out on the nation’s roads and this means drivers need to have their wits about them at all times when faced with these treacherous conditions.
People taking to the roads when freezing weather has set in should make sure all of their windows and mirrors have been cleared of ice and frost before driving, as visibility is paramount to staying safe when driving.
In addition, motorists should reduce their speed and remember that stopping distances can be up to ten times the norm when braking on ice. This means individuals need to plan ahead more carefully and look for what is happening further on the road than usual to give them more time to react.
It is also important to brake and accelerate smoothly, as lower levels of grip mean harsh manoeuvres can lead to problems like skidding and a loss of control.
Be ready for rain and floods
Finally, along with freezing temperatures and the snow and ice this brings, winter is also typified by considerable levels of rainfall and this can lead to wet roads and even flooding in areas with poor drainage.
As a result, drivers must be adept at driving in wet conditions and understand the differences in their behaviour that will help them to reach their destination safely at this time of year.
They should always remember to drive at a speed that is appropriate to the conditions they face, while braking distances will also be significantly increased when travelling in the wet.
When faced with flooded routes, it is essential motorists do not venture into areas where they do not know the depth of the waters they are likely to face – a typically family car can float in just one foot of standing water. As a result, it is almost always the best course of action to simply turn around and find an alternative route when faced with flooded roads.