Now we're well into October, the nights are starting to draw in and the weather is beginning to turn decidedly autumnal.

The more wintry the weather becomes, the more hazardous our roads can be - so we've put together a useful list of tips and advice to make sure you are safe on the roads whatever the weather.

Driving in cold weather

Statistics from the AA show that vehicle breakdowns almost double when there is a cold snap - with flat batteries being one of the most common cause. In cold weather, we naturally have the in-car heating and fans on as well as using the lights in the darker weather - all of which put an extra strain on the battery. Car batteries should be replaced every five years, so if yours is already on the way out then overuse during cold weather can finish it off.

Frozen radiators are also a common cause of breakdowns in cold weather. This can cause terminal engine damage due to overheating, so to avoid this make sure there is a 50/50 mix of water and antifreeze in the radiator.

It's also a good idea to put some antifreeze in your water bottle to prevent ice forming on your windscreen - DO NOT use normal engine antifreeze though, as this can cause damage to your paintwork. Instead, use dedicated windscreen antifreeze.

During icy or snowy weather you should:

  1. Consider not driving if you can avoid it
  2. Maintain a safe, low speed
  3. Keep larger than normal gaps between cars
  4. Apply brakes early and softly
  5. Keep an eye out for spots of ice - particularly in shaded areas (under bridges, trees etc...) and on high ground
  6. Clear all snow from your vehicle - not just the windows
  7. Invest in proper winter tyres

Driving in rain

In wet conditions stopping distances can double, so make sure you always keep a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle in front.

Your tyres are also important in wet weather, so make sure yours have at least the legal minimum tread depth. This is to ensure you have good grip on the road and prevent aquaplaning and losing control of the vehicle.

If you do aquaplane, don't panic. When you are through the puddle the tyres will find grip again. If you suddenly brake hard or over-steer you can put the vehicle into a spin.

More tips for driving in wet weather:

  1. If your vehicle has ABS, don't lift off during an emergency - push hard
  2. If the vehicle isn't equipped with ABS, lift slightly if it locks before pushing hard again
  3. If your wheels have locked, you won't be able to steer - so if you need to steer when this happens you will need to lift off the brakes
  4. Be prepared for large, deep puddles in valleys, road dips and near sloping fields

Driving in windy weather

In high winds lorries and caravans tend to be the most affected, so always be alert to the danger when passing them. Cars can also be affected by winds, especially on exposed roads so make sure you watch out for:

  1. Gaps in the side of the road (in trees, hedges etc...) that could be letting gusts through
  2. Large objects that could be blocking the wind (bridge pillars, for instance) as the sudden drop in wind pressure could force you to swerve

Driving in fog

When visibility on the road is down to 100 metres or less then the law states you must use your headlights - or fog lights in extreme conditions. For a guide, 100 metres is roughly the length of a football pitch.

In such conditions it can be difficult to find reference points, so use what you can to make sure you know exactly where on the road you are - cat's eyes, other headlights etc... Be careful not to rely on other vehicles too much though, as they may not know where they are going.

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