Winter Driving: Stay Safe in Icy Weather

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Driving during the winter months is always going to be a more difficult task. The lack of friction on the roads due to black ice and the reduced visibility caused by heavy snowfall are just two of the dangers that you may encounter during this time. When the conditions get very bad, you should only drive if it is absolutely necessary, but if you do decide to venture out onto the roads, here is some helpful advice to keep you safe.

Prepare Before You Leave

The first part of safe winter driving happens before you have even left the house. Pack some supplies to keep in the car including some food and water, warm clothing, a first aid kit, a portable phone charger, a torch, jump leads, an ice scraper and some grit. Plan your route carefully beforehand so that you are less likely to get lost and try to stick to main roads which are more likely to have been gritted. Do all the proper checks beforehand including your oil, car fluids, and tyre pressures. Clear the ice from the whole of your windscreen and windows before you leave so that you have maximum visibility.

Pick the Correct Lights

You shouldn’t use your fog lights unless the visibility is extremely poor as this could dazzle other road users – particularly if there is a lot of snow on the ground. Don’t use your full beam headlights any more than you normally would. However, you should use the dipped beam headlights when it is snowing to help drivers to spot you when you are out on the roads.

Keep Your Distance

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Stopping distances increase significantly during the icy weather so you should leave more space than you normally would. It can take as much as ten times as long to stop on an icy road, so increase the distance between you and the car in front appropriately. A good rule of thumb to follow is to be around 20 seconds from the car in front of you if the road is icy. If you are unlucky enough to get into an accident, you should look to contact an auto accident attorney. But if you keep your distance you will decrease the odds of the crash being serious.

Drive Smoothly and Gently

Your use of all of the car controls including steering, throttle and brake should be as smooth and slow as possible. Keep the engine revs at a minimum by changing gear early as you accelerate and late as you decelerate. Try to avoid and harsh steering or other manoeuvres that could cause the car to skid.

Deal with Skidding

Sometimes, skidding is inevitable no matter how much you try to stop it. Listen out for the sounds that the road is making – if you are driving on a patch of ice, the tyre noise is likely to suddenly go quiet. If you feel yourself start to skid, take your foot off the accelerator, avoid using the brakes and steer in the direction of the skid.  

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