Driving Safely in the Winter
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Last updated: 20/04/2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
Driving in winter can be unpredictable and dangerous. Weather conditions can change very quickly, making normal driving unsafe. However, you needn’t lock yourself in over the winter months. As long as you take the right steps to prepare, and respect the roads while driving, it’s perfectly possible to keep to your normal routine.
This guide tells you all you need to know about winter driving, how best to prepare for and drive on winter roads, and what you can do to ensure you’re insured.
There’s plenty you can do to help you stay safe when driving in winter. Here are some of the things you can do before getting in your car:
You should always keep your car regularly serviced to make sure it’s as safe as possible. Here are a few other things you can do to make sure your vehicle is ready for winter.
If the weather is particularly bad, forecasters may issue a red weather warning. This warns of extreme conditions. However, the world doesn’t have to grind to a halt. Most comprehensive car insurance will cover you to drive even when a red warning has been issued. Whilst you should always make an assessment for yourself as to whether you feel confident to drive, you shouldn’t let the issue of insurance hold you back. It is, however, always worth checking the terms and conditions of your car insurance policy if you are at all unsure.
Comprehensive and third-party car insurance will also cover you in the event of an incident that causes damage to someone else’s vehicle.
You should also make sure that you have breakdown cover. Whilst it’s always important to have this, it is particularly essential in winter, as there is a higher likelihood of breaking down.
The main advice for anyone driving in winter is quite simply to drive slower than normal. In fact, you should drive a lot slower than normal. In wet weather, stopping distances are doubled, and in icy conditions, they can be up to ten times further than normal. Then there is the problem of decreased grip and reduced handling.
In wet and snowy conditions, a lot of spray tends to come off the roads, affecting visibility. It’s a good idea to keep your windscreen wipers going, even when it isn’t actually raining or snowing.
Ice can be hard to see, or even invisible, and local authorities can often miss smaller roads when gritting. As a general rule, higher gears are safer. Setting off in second rather than first can avoid wheel spin, for example. Whilst you should accelerate slowly, using the highest gear possible once at speed will help you maximise your control.
Skidding around corners is one of the most common causes of accidents in icy conditions. To avoid skidding, apply your brakes before turning the wheel to navigate around bends. If you do start to skid, don’t panic and slam on the brakes. Instead, apply the brakes very gently and steer into the direction of the skid, not away from it, to regain control.