Even for the most experienced drivers, operating a vehicle during the winter months can be difficult, especially with the UK’s unpredictable weather. It’s likely you’ll be faced with a variety of challenging scenarios, from snow blizzards to floods, icy roads to long dark nights. If you’re new to driving, these conditions can be particularly overwhelming. Thankfully, we have listed the top six winter driving safety tips to help you get from point A to point B.
The Top Six Winter Driving Safety Tips
One – Prepare Your Vehicle
Before the winter months set in, book your vehicle in for a service to ensure it is functioning as it should be. To be extra safe, you can also carry out some checks of your own:
- Evaluate whether your vehicle’s fluids – including screenwash, oil and brake fluid – are at the optimum levels.
- Top up your antifreeze and coolant to prevent your vehicle’s pipes from corroding during the cold weather.
- Clean your vehicle regularly – especially the windscreen and headlights – to ensure you always have full visibility when driving.
Two – Pack an Emergency Winter Kit
Plan for the worst, hope for the best. In this case, it’s worth packing essentials in your car should it break down on a dark winter’s evening. Your emergency winter kit could include the following:
- A blanket or extra winter clothing
- A torch
- First-aid kit
- Non-perishable food
- Tow rope
- Fully-charged portable phone charger
Three – Check Your Tyre Tread
One of the most important winter driving safety tips is to regularly check the condition of your tyres, especially as the harsh winter weather can seriously reduce their grip. By law, tyre tread depth must be a minimum of 1.6mm, but we recommend maintaining a depth of 3mm and above. Winter tyres can help eradicate this issue as they provide enhanced traction.
Four – Know How to Operate the Lights and Heating System
As the days get shorter and the temperatures cool, you’ll be using your vehicle’s lights and heating system much more. Before setting off on a journey, check everything is working as it should be to avoid mist building up and lack of visibility.
Five – Keep Your Distance
On snow and ice, your stopping distance increases drastically compared to general road conditions; what may take you two seconds can increase to ten seconds or more. In accordance, one of our most important winter driving safety tips is to leave plenty of distance between yourself and the vehicle in front.
Six – Tackle Each Weather Condition Individually
The UK weather can be erratic; therefore, it’s important to know how to drive in a variety of different winter conditions, including:
- Rain and Mud
Slow down when driving through deep puddles or muddy areas to avoid aquaplaning. Avoid the edges of the road, where the water and mud are likely to be worse.
- Strong Winds
Not only can powerful gusts of wind blow obstacles into the road, but they can also push a vehicle off course. In these conditions, drive very slowly and keep a strong grip on the steering wheel.
When visibility is below 100 metres, drive with dipped headlights and fog lights. It’s important to reduce your speed too.
- Snow and Ice
According to the Highway Code, you should only drive during extreme snow or ice if your journey is essential. If you must drive, avoid any heavy breaking to fully control your vehicle.
We hope these winter driving safety tips are helpful. If you still lack confidence in driving in the winter, ask a family or friend to accompany you while you build your confidence. Alternatively, you could book a few winter driving lessons with an expert driving instructor.