10 Tips for Staying Safe While Winter Driving
We’re all aware that winter can be a treacherous time for even the most experienced of drivers, I’ve had a few unfortunate experiences with cars and ice/snow, enough to make me wary and conscious that I should be following a few simple and sensible rules.
1. Winter tires are not just for winter. The quality of the tires makes them very suitable for driving in any conditions below about 45 degrees (7c). So, keep them on your vehicle for a bit longer, there’s often cold snaps and sudden snow falls that catch us unawares, but we can be prepared for them.
2. Snow belts, chains or socks on the wheels that drive your vehicle (front wheel drive, rear wheel drive and 4×4 will all get chained up differently) will greatly increase traction, increasing safety and save wear and tear that comes from spinning wheels.
3. Fit a frost cover over your windshield and any other windows you need to keep clear. Pouring boiling water on a windscreen will clear ice, but it also has a good chance of cracking the screen. Glass isn’t able to cope with sudden changes of temperature. Turning on the heating in the car will also help clear the windows, many cars now have heated windshields as well as back windows, switch these on to help.
4. Clear your car roof and windshield before you hit the road. The Police may stop you for a violation if lumps of snow and ice are falling off your car while driving. Have a washing brush and ice scraper handy.
5. Don’t try to open a door window when it is frozen. The window motor and the trim might be damaged in the process. Get the car heating on and allow plenty of time for the windows to warm up before attempting to open them.
6. Replace your wipers when needed, they’re going to get damaged by use and dirt so make sure they’re in good condition.
7. Batteries can take a hammering in cold weather, keep them topped up with a portable battery charger, there’s no point disconnecting the battery unless it’s going into storage for some reason. Invest in a good quality battery and it will see you through the winters, especially if it’s looked after.
8. You know how it feels when the car coming towards you have their lights on full blast, it’s reflecting off of the snow or wet road and you can’t see a thing. Be considerate of how you use your lights, keep them on low beam and also consider buying good quality bulbs, modern halogen bulbs are powerful but not so glaring.
9. Drive on roads that are well used, the authorities clear these roads first and keep them gritted, it’s safer to do this than go on less busy roads that are not as maintained for winter conditions, it will cost you more time in the long run, pulling yourself out of a snowdrift or the back of another car than being in heavier traffic on the main thoroughfares.
10. Keep your tire pressure at the right level, it’s not a good idea to reduce tire pressure as it will not increase traction on snow and ice. If you’re stuck in sand it might be helpful, but not ice and snow. If you’ve got the right winter tire you should be ok.
If you follow these simple tips, you should have no problem arriving at your location. Although it’s also worth pointing out that there’s only so much a car and tires and tips for winter driving can take you, if the weather is bad, be prudent and ask yourself, ‘do I need to make this journey?’
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