If the last few winters are anything to go by, the UK could well experience more than a light dusting of snow over the festive season this year.
But even if your car is in the correct mechanical condition for winter there are a few important steps to remember for driving in snowy or icy conditions:
- Safe driving starts with good visibility. Makes sure your car’s windows are fully cleared. Driving around with frosted-up glass or snow covered headlights makes it all too easy for you to miss that car emerging from a side road – and for it to miss you.
- It’s important to drive to the conditions – that means judge your speed carefully. Not too fast that the car is out of control, but not too slow that the vehicle loses momentum. But make sure you always err on the side of caution. Bear in mind that braking distances increase 10-fold in snowy or icy conditions.
- Help set your speed by selecting the right gear. Let the engine labour so as not to spin the wheels, increasing the risk of an accident. Starting off in second gear can help reduce revs and the risk of skidding, too.
- If your car starts to slide, remember to lift off the accelerator and steer into the skid – this means right if the rear of your car skids to the right and left if it goes left.
- Remember: don’t brake if you can avoid it as this will want to lock the wheels – even with ABS. The whole point is to try and regain the tyre’s grip with the road.
- Think ahead and plan. If there’s a corner coming up then brake in plenty of time and adjust your speed to the severity of the bend. It’s better to gently drive through a corner – not overly stressing the car – than suddenly braking and turning sharply, risking a crash.
- Try and use the brakes as little as possible. On downhill gradients this can be difficult, but use the gearbox and engine braking to help slow you down. This means selecting second gear – for example – to restrain the car, rather than riding the brakes, risking a loss of control.
- Planning your journeys and sticking to major roads that are often gritted or cleared can also help reduce the risk of an incident.
Sometimes the unexpected occurs, but in preparing as thoroughly as possible and pre-empting anything untoward by careful driving, you can ward against any mishaps on the road this winter.
Have you ever had a near miss on snow or ice? Maybe you’ve even had a small accident during wintery conditions on the road? How do you modify your driving style when it’s snowy or icy?
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