Tips for Driving in Winter

Can you feel the chill? To some people, the idea of winter’s grasp leaves them with a desire to stay indoors, wrapped up with mulled wine and a roaring fireplace.

For most of us though, it’s little more than a damned inconvenience as we struggle on our way to work!

While there are certainly a number of winter dangers on the road that have the potential to cause traffic accidents, there is no need to see driving in bad weather as any more difficult than doing so in better conditions.

A little preparation and an understanding of driving in the winter, and the long dark months of the cold weather can be conquered with ease.

Before you drive – the important winter checks for your car

Consider winter tyres

Of all the misunderstood driving practices, especially in the UK, the confusion over winter tyres is perhaps the easiest to dismiss.

In short – winter tyres are good. They have a different tread design, tougher material that’s better suited for the cold and driving in the snow, they help prevent hydroplaning and aquaplaning, give you a firmer grip on black ice and much more.

Remember to swap them back to their fair-weather cousins once the thaw has taken hold, but the best winter tyre tip is simple: use them!

Give yourself more time

One of the most important winter weather driving safety tips is to provide yourself enough time to get to your destination without worry.

Road traffic accidents are often caused by drivers not paying due care and attention to their environment because they are in a rush – don’t be one of those people!

There’s no need for negligent driving if you give yourself a proper amount of time to get to where-ever you want to go.

It is also worth remembering that it is better to arrive late than not at all.

Check tyres

Whether or not you are using winter tyres, be sure to check your tyre pressure and condition – driving on tyres close to (or past) the legal limit is bad enough in good conditions, but when the environment is against you, it’s likely to lead to car accidents.

Winter car maintenance should be a little more frequent and considered than the common relaxed attitude during the dry months.

Clear your car before the drive

Make sure your windows are clear of frost, ice and snow – and not just the windscreen. Spend a few moments going around the car ensuring your visibility from all windows (and in the wing mirrors) is perfect.

Remove any large chunks of snow from the roof – this can become displaced at speed to disastrous effect:

Check your windscreen washers are working and that you have adequate water in the system (preferably with a little anti-freeze). Clean your wiper blades too – in the winter, snow-clearing rock salt can put both wipers and washers under considerable pressure.

Pack in case something goes wrong

You will never notice the space that’s taken up in the boot by a blanket, a bottle of water, and a few biscuits, but you will really appreciate them should you become stuck due to poor weather conditions!

Plan your route

If you don’t know the route you are going to take very well, then take some time to properly plan and study the trip before you leave.

Cyber tools like Google Maps are perfect to give you an accurate idea of the journey before you get into the car and can even point out potential weather hazards.

Make sure your shoes are clean and dry

You don’t want to cause an accident because your footwear is iced over and making it hard to properly use the pedals!

Shake off any excess snow, dry them off if wet and make sure your shoes do not hinder your car control.

Once in the car – winter weather driving tips

Understanding how to drive in snow, ice or heavy rain is a little different to driving in the dry. If this is your first year driving in the winter, be sure to take extra care – experience is everything and it is better to learn carefully than have anything go wrong.

Drive carefully

It may seem obvious, but don’t be tempted by the snow and ice to play ‘rally driver’, even in areas that seem deserted. Pay full attention to the road and drive more slowly than you might in clear conditions.

Accelerate and brake slowly and avoid any jerking motions with the car.

Use higher gears

When driving in snow, high gears can help you maintain traction. If you become stuck with the wheels spinning, try starting in second or even third gear, with careful and measured clutch control to get the car moving.

Try to avoid heavy traffic on hills

Be especially careful on steep hills. In heavy traffic on an icy surface, you may find that the handbrake alone is not enough to keep the car stationary and that you begin to slip downhill in a queue of cars. Try to avoid any situation that has you stopping a laden vehicle in a hilly traffic jam.

Keep your eyes on the desired destination

If you feel you are losing control of the vehicle, avoid looking at other cars coming towards you for too long and concentrate instead on where you want the car to go.

Cars have a tendency to go where you are pointing, and by focussing on an oncoming hazard, you increase the chance of a collision!

Avoid distractions

It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving, so be sure to keep your phone out of temptation, but also avoid other distractions.

Eating while driving, checking directions, even just chatting to the person in the passenger seat can be enough of a break in concentration to cause an accident.

Keep your mind on the journey and avoid wandering!

What to do in an accident

Remain calm, make sure you stop (failing to stop at an accident you are involved in is a criminal offence), and if the accident is serious, be sure to contact the appropriate emergency services immediately.

Exchange insurance and contact details with anyone else involved and take a break before returning to driving even if the collision was minor.

Thankfully, though the number of accidents does go up in winter months, the number of them that are little more than minor inconveniences is a high percentage.

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident that was not your fault and have suffered as a result, then give Cute Injury a call today. Our specialist legal team are experts in compensation claims for personal injury and work on a No Win No Fee basis – meaning you can get top-quality legal representation without it costing you a penny.

We can also offer additional services, such as helping if you need a replacement car after an accident.

For more information call us at Cute Injury today – or fill out our contact form to have an experienced advisor call you back at a more convenient time for you.

Above all though, be safe when driving this winter!

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