Being able to drive gives you a great sense of freedom, but also puts a lot of responsibility upon your shoulders. You’re not only responsible for yourself but for the vehicle you’re in, your passengers, pedestrians and other drivers to a certain extent too.
Cars are pretty easy to maintain during nicer weather but during those cold, snowy, icy days your car becomes a bigger responsibility. So I thought I’d share some cold weather tips with you from The RAC about driving in snowy conditions:
- Wear comfortable and dry footwear
- Accelerate gently, use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as possible
- Move off in second gear as this will help reduce wheel slip – some cars have a winter mode, which does the same job – so to check whether your car has this function in the vehicle’s handbook
- Get your speed right and maintain safe stopping distances between you and the car in front, leaving as much as 10 times the normal recommended gap
- Prepare for an uphill by leaving plenty of room in front so you can maintain a constant speed without the need for changing gear
- Use a low gear for going downhill and try to avoid braking unless necessary, make sure you leave plenty of space between you and the car in front
- When approaching a bend, brake before you actually start to turn the steering wheel. If your car does lose grip try not to panic; the key thing is to take your foot off the accelerator and make sure that your wheels are pointing in the direction you want to go in
- If you do encounter a skid, steer gently into it – for example, if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes
- When driving in heavy snow, make sure that you use your dipped headlights. Relying on daytime running lights is not enough, because they don’t always put lights on the back of your car.
- If visibility drops below a 100m, put your fog lights on. But remember to turn them off when the visibility improves.
- If the road has not been gritted, be wary of driving in the wheeltracks or other vehicles as compressed snow is likely to be more icy than fresh snow
- Controls such as the brakes, as well as the steering, accelerator and even gear changing should be operated smoothly and slowly
- Sunglasses can help to reduce the glare of low winter sun on the snow
- Keep your speed down and allow more time to stop and steer
- Finally, it’s important to think about the environment that you’re driving in, especially microclimates that might appear on the road. These are areas that perhaps the sun hasn’t got to, which could stay icy when the rest of the road has thawed. Bridges are a good example. They’re normally the first to freeze and the last to thaw. So be aware of that when you’re driving in open spaces.
It’s also a good idea to pack some emergency blankets in your boot and may some water and durable food. It’s always better to be over prepared when driving in snowy conditions. And don’t forget a snow shovel and some gloves!
The weather here at the moment is so cold, snowy, icy and windy. There are amber and red alerts throughout the country so if you’re in the UK please be careful and listen to the above advice.
Do you have any top tips for driving in the snow? We’d love to hear them!