Top tips for winter driving


Top tips for winter driving

Here in Berkshire, we know only too well that the weather hazard this winter has been the floods.

Out of most windows, and certainly on every TV, there are endless images of water and the devastation it has caused to so many people's homes and businesses.

There have, of course, been incidents involving the tragic loss of life related to the floods - in particular the treacherous driving conditions they can create in an instant.

In relation to localised flooding, all we can recommend is TAKE attention to anywarning signs and do NOT attempt to drive through any amount of standing water as you never know the hazards which lie beneath.

If you have found yourself in any water on the road, be sure to test your brakes once you have passed through it.

Fortunately, so far the other perils of winter - snow, ice and fog - have yet to make their presence felt in any major fashion on the UK's road network.

However, never say never...the British weather as it is these days, is utterly unpredictable and the danger period for such unwanted driving conditions has not yet passed.

Below are some general tips for driving in colder conditions and then some more specific ones relating to snow and ice taken from the AA's online guide:

  • Keep the windscreen and other windows clear. If your vsision is obstructed in any way, your driving ability is impaired. Check this regularly as salted roads lead to more smears on the windscreen - and lights and numberplates. Make sure they are all clear at all times.
  • Use air conditioning to demist the screen and to reduce condensation on cold windows.
  • Check windscreen wipers and replace if worn.
  • Top up Windscreen washer fluid and treat with a suitable additive to reduce the chance of freezing.
  • Beware the low winter sun - dazzle can be a real problem to drivers.
  • Use your headlights when visibility is seriously reduced. You may also use front or rear fog lights but these must be switched off when visibility improves as they can dazzle other road users and obscure your brake lights.
  • Set the alarm for ten minutes earlier in times of adverse weather so you can prepare your vehicle for the journey ahead.
  • Use a cigarette lighter to warm a key for use in a frozen lock.
  • Stick to main roads where possible for your route.
  • Remember - safety before punctuality. Allow extra time for journeys and prepare to face delays.
  • Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving - stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow.
  • Wear comfortable, dry shoes for driving.
  • Drive off in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.
  • When driving uphill, avoid having to stop part way up by waiting until it is clear of other cars or by leaving plenty of room to the car in front. Keep a constant speed, choosing the most suitable gear well in advance to avoid having to change gear on the hill.
  • When driving downhill, reduce your speed before the hill, choose a low gear and try to avoid braking. Leave as much room as possible between your vehicle and the one in front.
  • If you have to use your brakes then apply them gently. Release the brakes and de-clutch if the car skids.
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