Driving in winter can be a real challenge! A little like running the gauntlet, adverse weather conditions such as fog, snow, ice, heavy rain, floods and high winds have a nasty habit of creating extra hazards.
After the clocks have gone back in October, it gets dark earlier and this alone can wreak havoc during rush hour – when visibility may be poor. We need to adapt the way we drive to ensure safety, making sure we’re prepared for the elements.
When you’re planning a trip in winter, especially if it’s likely to be a long one, prepare an emergency kit to keep in your vehicle. Should you be stranded overnight because of floods or an unannounced snow storm, it is important to make sure you can keep safe and warm until help arrives.
You should carry a hazard warning triangle, shovel, tow rope, de-icer, first aid kit, torch, blanket, warm clothes – including sturdy boots, emergency food and a flask containing a hot beverage. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged before you set off.
Driving in snow and ice
If you hit snow or ice, adapt to the conditions accordingly. There’s a greater chance of skidding and your stopping distance will be much longer, so reduce your speed IMMEDIATELY. Avoid sudden braking, fast acceleration and sharp steering on bends where it can be easy to drift across the road or spin.
Leave a greater gap after the vehicle in front – up to 10 times the normal braking distance. Stop frequently to clean windows, wing mirrors and lights.
Getting stuck in snow
Don’t rev your engine too hard if you get stuck, as this will create a rut under your wheels and make it harder to move. Try moving your vehicle backwards and forwards slowly, in the highest gear you can manage.
If all else fails, get out your shovel and dig out the snow around your wheels or see if a passer-by will give you a push. If you remain stuck, don’t leave your vehicle – call a breakdown service to come and rescue you. While waiting, don’t keep the engine running constantly – turn it on intermittently instead.
Driving in heavy rain
Rain reduces visibility and increases braking distances to twice the normal distance. Make sure your windscreen wipers are working properly and allow extra time when planning your journey.
Driving too fast into surface water can result in aquaplaning – this causes tyres to lose contact with the road and slide across the water. Drive slowly and make sure your tyres have the correct tread and pressure.
As driving in heavy rain causes poor visibility, you can benefit from the reversing cameras that H&H Van Hire has installed in our Luton vans. This technology means you won’t be struggling to see what’s behind you if you’re reversing in torrential rain.
Try to avoid driving on flooded roads but if your journey is a necessity, avoid the deepest water near the kerb. If you’re in any doubt about how deep the water is, don’t attempt to carry on. If you do decide to take the risk, drive slowly and beware of the “wave” effect that can be caused by oncoming traffic.
Driving in fog
Don’t drive through fog unless your journey is essential, as it’s one of the most hazardous weather conditions. If an accident occurs, it doesn’t take long for numerous vehicles to become involved.
Allow more time for your journey and check that everything in your car works properly before setting off, particularly the lights. Drive slowly and use you fog lights whenever necessary. Don’t be lulled into tailing the car in front if you can see their lights, as if they brake suddenly, you may be too close to stop in time.