Safety Tips For Cold Weather Driving
Driving can be challenging at the best of times but especially so when you have treacherous conditions to contend with, not just the poor driving of other travelers on the road. Winter, in particular, brings with it a host of climatic problems that can affect your visibility and safety on the road. From torrential rain to misty morning, icy roads to blowing gales and worse of all, fog. Just as you would adjust your wardrobe to deal with these conditions, in particular, your footwear, so too should you adapt the way you drive. It’s also best to stay safe on the roads, so we’ve pulled together our top safety tips for cold weather driving in 2019. We’ll uncover the key things you should consider when grip and visibility are problematic.
Nobody enjoys driving in the snow and wherever possible, it’s certainly best avoided. However, if you do have to venture out in severe driving conditions, always ensure that you have the appropriate safety car gear stowed in your trunk along with an emergency kit. A sudden and unexpected snowdrift and you could be stranded for hours, so it’s best to be prepared. We also recommend that you take time to winter-proof your car and to give it a good overhaul before the aggressive winter months kick in. Top up your anti-freeze, check that the tread on your tires is legally safe and sound and make sure you’re running with a fully charged battery. Just these little belts and braces checks will go a long way to preventing you from getting stranded this winter.
Do’s and Don’ts For Bad Weather Driving
We appreciate that it’s not possible to just hibernate and bunker down for the winter. It’s essential, therefore, that you’re sufficiently prepared and able to fully control your vehicle in all eventualities. In our guide today, we’re looking at ways you can cope with snow and ice, how to safely commute through high winds and of course, that common phenomenon, driving through rain and encountering localized flooding. These are all challenges to be frequently expected when you’re driving in the cold weather.
1. Plan Ahead
Do your research and refer to online maps as well as the local weather reports to plan out the best route for your journey. That way, you should be able to avoid any trouble spots both in terms of where traffic is at a peak but also areas that have been severely affected by adverse weather conditions.
2. Look Ahead
Sounds obvious but pay close attention to what’s happening on the road ahead. Don’t just look to the car directly in front of you. Scan ahead as far as possible and work backward to your vehicle from that point, assessing what the situation is in between. This will allow you to better gauge and adjust your speed so you can avoid any last-minute, dangerous maneuvers.
3. Control Your Speed
Remember back to your driving test where you learned about stopping speeds? Extended separation distances are vital in wet conditions but particularly when it’s icy. The recommended separation distance should be ten times that of normal weather driving conditions. When roads are slippery, especially when there’s unseen black ice on the surface, any tailgating could have catastrophic results.
4. Drive Smoothly
Try and maintain the smooth and stable handling of your vehicle, especially when the weather is problematic. Don’t be tempted to abruptly slam on the breaks, or accelerate too quickly. Careful and controlled are what’s required for cold weather driving. If you’ve taken our advice and are looking well ahead, then you shouldn’t be forced into making jerky last-minute decisions that could cause you ultimately to lose control.
5. Don’t Coast
Smooth driving is all about control and always being in contact with your pedals. It’s not about coasting, especially around corners. You should always have a good weight balance transfer, either on the brakes or on the throttle.
6. Understand Your Traction Control
Designed to stop the rear wheels of your car from spinning in situations where there’s a lot of snow on the road, if your vehicle is fitted with traction control, make sure you use it. It could make all the difference between holding a straight line on a hazardous road or spinning out of control.
7. Pay Attention To Road Signs
Road signs and markings are the best indicators you have of where you need to be going and what’s coming up next. They also provide valuable temporary information that can assist you with staying safer on treacherous wintry roads. Road signs fulfill and crucial function and should never be ignored, even if you are traveling on an all too familiar road.
8. Understand Your Vehicles Braking System
Do you have an ABS system? If so, get familiar with how it feels and recognize when it’s working on your behalf. How your brakes are behaving will affect your steering and control. Without ABS, driving in icy conditions requires an entirely different technique, which requires you to pump the brakes to stay safe.
9. Keep On Top Of Essential Maintenance
It’s always important to routinely maintain your car but particularly so in cold weather where issues like cracked windscreens and faulty lighting could present serious problems. It doesn’t matter how excellent your driving is if your car mechanically fails you in some way. So pay attention to any flashing lights on your dashboard and quickly nip any faults in the bud.
10. Dress Appropriately
Even if you are lucky enough to own a car with heated seats, if you breakdown, you’ll be wishing you packed a blanket and an emergency kit. You may not be wearing a hat, scarf and gloves to drive, but at least make sure that you have them with you, especially when driving in cold weather conditions. Winter boots and warm down jackets are a must. It’s also a good idea to take some essential provisions with you too. A thermos of hot tea and some snacks in case you are stranded in driving snow for quite some time is an excellent idea. It pays to be well equipped and fully prepared.