Driving Tips: How to say safe on the roads this winter
For many, the start of winter is the last weekend in October when the clocks go back. The following week, we wake up in pitch dark and likely leave work in darkness, too.
So whilst it’s not officially the start of winter (officially it’s the 22nd December), it is worth considering how best to deal with heavy rain, poor vision and other challenging conditions.
Remember your shades
This might seem an odd tip given the sun is disappearing, yet we’re telling you to remember your sunglasses! This is because, as we descend into winter, the sun stays low – particularly at commuting hours. You will find even your sun visor will struggling to stop the dazzle, so it’s important that you have a pair of clean sunglasses in the car all year round.
Just remember, others may not be as smart as you – give yourself a little extra braking distance to take into account the mistakes of other drivers, cyclists and pedestrians who might be blinding by the sun.
Keep on top of car maintenance
It’s all very well cleaning your shades for a clear view, but you need to keep your windscreen clean too. At this time of year, you’ll find yourself really getting through windscreen washer fluid fast. Familiarise yourself with where the tank is located under the bonnet so you can keep an eye on levels – get in the habit of checking every time you do your tyre pressures.
Most petrol stations and shops like Halfords will stock inexpensive pre-mixed washer fluid that won’t freeze over winter.
Be prepared for worst-case scenarios
Enjoy standing out in the rain, or freezing cold? Well, if you’re not in an emergency situation, you could be waiting an hour or more if your car breaks down at the side of the road, so you should always be prepared if the worst was to happen.
We suggest always having a ‘survival pack’ in the boot of the car: a blanket, an extra warm jumper, a first aid kit, a bottle of water and perhaps a chocolate bar or two! Always make sure you have some practical tools such as a torch, ice scraper and a foot pump with a tyre pressure gauge, too. Today, there’s also no excuse not to have a phone charger lead in your car either – most modern cars have at least one USB port; alternatively you can get adaptors for car cigarette lighters.
As winter really takes hold, you may want to go further – a pair of wellies and a shovel are worthwhile additions to your survival pack.
Give yourself more time
An all too common sight on icy mornings is people willing to drive with frozen windscreens, staring through a tiny porthole they have created, because they prioritise getting to work on time over their safety – bad move!
You only need to get up to 5 or 10 minutes earlier to give yourself a chance to remove any ice, check online for any traffic issues and check your tyres are in good order. Just remember, unless you have a private driveway, it’s illegal to leave your car idling on the road warming up, not to mention the perfect invitation for thieves.
As winter approaches, it is the ideal time to ensure your car is serviced, your tyres have plenty of life in them, your lights are nice and bright and your windscreen wipers are in tip-top condition. And of course, in really bad weather, question if you really need to make the trip in the first place.
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