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Winter Driving Tips

With the colder weather rapidly approaching I thought it may be useful to give a little motoring advice as far as driving on slippery roads is concerned.

The best advice for driving in extreme winter weather is not to drive at all if you can avoid it. If you must go out wait until the snow ploughs and gritting trucks have had a chance to do their work. Remember than road salt takes time to permeate the ice and work effectively, particularly if the temperature is very low. Don’t assume that just because a road has been gritted you can drive on it normally.

Before the extreme weather arrives make sure your vehicle is prepared. Ensure it is running reliably, make sure the battery is fully charged and the lights are working. Make sure your windscreen wash bottle is filled with screen wash to the correct concentration as it will help prevent the water from freezing.

Before setting off make sure you know your route. Don’t rely solely on a satellite navigation device, if a road is closed or impassable you will have to find an alternative. Make sure your car has plenty of fuel and take a moment to completely clear your car windows of ice and snow. It’s amazing how often we see motorists attempting to drive whilst peering out of a small patch of defrosted windscreen! It’s a good idea to carry a shovel in case you get stuck, some sturdy boots in case you need to leave your vehicle and make sure your mobile phone is fully charged in case you need to summon assistance.

Finally, keep to main roads wherever possible as they are most likely to be the safest. If a road looks impassable please don’t try to chance it. The chances are you will get stuck!

Here are a few tips that will help you drive safely on slippery roads -
1.      Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least five times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
2.      Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up do not place further pressure on the brake pedal, ease off the brake to regain steering control.
3.      Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
4.      Keep your lights and windscreen clean.
5.      Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
6.      Don't use cruise control where there is a risk of ice.
7.      Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently travelled roads as they often freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing you might encounter ice in shady or exposed areas.
8.      Don't pass snow ploughs or gritting trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
9.      Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel drive vehicles can lose grip winter roads.