Driving in winter is a nightmare for a lot of people, but it’s a necessary evil in the modern world. Even with the right preparation, people just don’t like the unfamiliar and harsh conditions that come with it. One of the best things you can do to help fight this fear of driving in winter is to learn what the biggest dangers are, and the best thing you can do to help prevent them from happening to you.
Winter Driving Hazards
The first thing that you need to do to make driving in winter a safer experience is to learn about all of the hazards that come with it, and what you can do to minimise or control them as and when they happen. They are forces of nature after all, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to correctly manage them.
Ice and water
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about driving in winter is usually the awful cold weather that comes with it. Ice and water on the roads can be really serious hazards if you don’t know what to expect when driving with them, so it really is invaluable to deal with them separately.
One of the most important ways to deal with them is by managing your speed, first of all. Reducing your speed helps you to control your handling and keep your positioning where it should be. It also helps to reduce stopping distance and skid risk as well; both of which can be seriously bad news. It’s also a great time to look into your bake health as well as your tyre health too. winter tyres can be really useful here and provide a lot more grip in these conditions.
If these issues do get the better of you, it’s also critically important that you learn how to deal with the worst-case scenarios that come from it. It’s always vital to know what to do in the event of an accident or even a skid to minimise the risk you pose to yourself and other road users. (Here’s a guide from Churchill, for example).
Snow and hail,
Worse than both ice and water is snow, since it’s a combination of the two and it can reduce visibility as well as control on the road. It’s a triple threat, and generally, it’s bad news for everyone.
If the snow is still falling, the best thing that you can do is to try and stay off the roads in the first place. If that’s just not possible, it’s a good idea to make sure you check the condition of your wipers since they’ll be put through their paces in no time. Drive more slowly if you need to, and try to use roads that have been driven on already by others.
It’s even worse still if it hails, as that poses all of the same issues and even more when the hail can cause damages to your windows or paintwork, and they can be more serious longer-term problems you are left to deal with.
Winter Driving Precautions
To help prevent things that can happen even outside of the weather or the impact that it has, it’s also a smart move to make sure you know all about the precautions you can take to help keep you safe. Little changes to your driving habits can make a huge impact on your safety when you’re driving in winter, and they can be all the difference in an emergency.
Firstly, make sure you are defrosting your car correctly and clearing your windscreen. You have to be able to see well before you set off to even have a chance of driving safely. Keep a cloth in hand to wipe and mist or condensation from your mirrors or windows, and use de-icer if you’re experiencing frost or ice build-up. Hot water is not a good choice as you can easily smash your windows. Heated windscreens can be a really useful feature here. Why buying a car in winter is more difficult.
Set off Early
Next, make sure you are giving yourself enough time to actually drive places safely. This is made even worse still once the weather starts to cause other delays. Rushing at the best of times causes risks, but when you’re running late to work because of the winter weather, you’re asking for trouble as things get heated. Keep your cool and give yourself more time than you need to get places. That way, you’re minimising stress and really protecting yourself whether you’re driving in winter or not.
Keep well lit
The last point we’ll look at in prevention is making sure that you are always well lit. The days are much shorter in winter, so make sure that your lights are working properly, set correctly and more importantly, on when they need to be. Most cars have their lights on now automatically but don’t feel bad to keep them on all day. Driving in winter is something we all have to do, and more visibility helps others as well as yourself. How to deal with your used car.
Overall, just make sure you’re driving sensibly and follow the advice we’re giving. Check your car regularly and take any precautions you feel you need to. For more info on preparing your car for winter, check out our other article too.