With the winter weather now upon us, we thought it would be beneficial to our clients to have some simple but practical advice to ensure your safety whilst driving:
Preparing Your Vehicle
- Check the conditions of your tyres (legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, but in poor conditions, 3mm is strongly recommended).
- Refer to your vehicle handbook and ensure all five of your tyres are inflated correctly (do not lower the tyre pressures for driving on snow, it is dangerous and doesn’t work and the tyre can come away from the rim).
- Check the levels of all fluids at least once a week.
- Ensure that the engine cooling system (radiator) contains antifreeze (correct mix and type – your local garage can advise).
- Always use screenwash and not plain water in your washer bottle.
- Always refuel your vehicle when the fuel level drops to 1/3 of a tank.
- Check your windscreen wipers for wear and tear and clean the rubber blades regularly. Do not leave wiper blades on to remove ice, as this causes increased wear to the blades.
- Ensure that all lights are fully functional. If you are able to replace broken bulbs, invest in a spare set (available from your dealer or Halfords etc).
- Ensure that all vehicle tools are present, and that you know how to use them safely.
In the event of your vehicle breaking down, or being involved in an accident, you may be in your vehicle for a long, unplanned length of time. There are certain items of equipment that are recommended to be kept in your car, that may make the experience more bearable, and that could make the difference between life and death.
Equipment To Carry
- Extra set of warm clothing (including gloves and hat).
- Blanket or sleeping bag.
- Basic First Aid Kit.
- Torch (check it regularly).
- Mobile phone.
- Mobile phone charging cable / fully charged battery pack.
- Small shovel.
- Hi Vis vest.
- Warning Triangle.
- Flask (containing hot water, soup etc – particularly for longer journeys).
- Food (snacks, chocolate bars etc).
- Road atlas (vehicle satnav systems sometimes fail).
Driving in icy and snowy conditions
- Ensure you clear all snow from windows, lights, bonnet, roof and boot
- Keep all windows clear and demisted.
- Wear comfortable, dry shoes for driving.
- Pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.
- Uphill – leave plenty of room or wait until it’s clear so you don’t have to stop part way up. Keep a constant speed and try to avoid having to change gear on the hill.
- Downhill – slow down before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid braking. Leave as much room as you can to the car in front.
- If you have to use your brakes, apply them gently.
- If you drive an Automatic, check the handbook – some have a winter mode or recommend selecting ‘2’ in slippery conditions.
- If you do get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip.