The cold winter season for England usually runs between November and March, which can cause havoc for drivers across the country. If you drive in Scotland, the North or West of England, in particular, then you are likely to experience rain, sleet and snow on the roads, which will affect the way in which you drive and how you prepare your car for travelling. So, with this in mind, we’ve put together the top tips you should follow to make sure you drive safely in adverse winter conditions.
Check Before You Travel
Before you travel in winter weather, you should make sure to check and plan your route so that it includes major roads – as these are more likely to be cleared of snow and gritted to reduce freezing.
You should also aim to not only allow yourself extra time to complete the journey, as you’ll be driving slower, but also give yourself more time before you’re expected to drive, so that you can fully de-ice your car and de-mist your windscreen.
To help you drive as safely and confidently as possible in cold and icy conditions, the best thing is to use a suitable scraper to remove all ice from your windows before you drive. And to make sure you’re not driving with poor visibility – wait until your windscreen has fully cleared of condensation, using your air-con before and during your drive to reduce the build-up of mist.
The final check to make in preparation for your drive is the fuel levels and tyres. Your fuel levels should be at least a quarter of tank or more, to account for unexpected delays, slower traffic, and reduce the risk of stopping or breaking down. Your tyres should also be in a good condition, to ensure the most grip as possible on icy roads, so make they are inflated to the recommended pressure.
Carry an Emergency Kit of Winter Essentials in Your Car
Expert instructors at Bill Plant Driving School recommend that you should always carry an emergency kit in your car in case of a breakdown or delays – which tend to occur more often in bad winter weather. This is so you are fully equipped in case you have to pull over for a prolonged period of time and wait for assistance. The advised winter essentials you should keep in your emergency kit are:
- Warm clothes and blankets
When driving in colder weather in general, and especially in the case of a breakdown, wearing layers will ensure that you stay nice and toasty. Keep extra warm clothes and a blanket in your car’s emergency kit, as you are expected to get out of the vehicle when it has broken down and find a safe space to shelter whilst waiting for assistance. Driving in the dark is also very likely in the winter, and the sleet, snow and fog can make it even harder to see, so it’s advised to have a hi-vis jacket to wear when leaving or standing next to your broken-down car, so that you can be seen as a hazard to other drivers.
- Warning triangles
Visibility is key, so as well as the fluorescent jacket, warning triangles are also recommended to make sure that you’re seen as a hazard to other drivers, in the event of a breakdown. This warns other vehicles of your presence, and give them the chance to slow down – which is even more important in adverse weather conditions. If you breakdown on a road, and it is safe to do so, place a warning triangle at least 45m (50 yards) behind and in front of your car.
Remember this is only the case when you’re on a standard road, not on the motorway, as it’s not safe to place triangles on the hard shoulder.
- Hot drinks and water
It’s important to stay hydrated even in the winter, and especially if you find yourself delayed because of slower traffic, blocked roads or accidents, so keep plenty of water in your car. In the case of a breakdown, a flask of your hot drink of choice is also a good idea, to keep you extra warm while you wait for assistance.
- Non-perishable snacks
Likewise, it is a good idea to keep some snacks in your emergency kit, so you can keep up your energy levels as well as your hydration. It can be a long wait when there are delays due to snow on the roads or a collision caused by the bad weather, so keeping your energy and concentration levels up is the best way to drive safely when it’s cold and dark.