a multitude of potential dangers for drivers
As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, it’s important that you take extra care when driving on the roads. Winter weather conditions like ice, snow, fog and heavy rainfall present a multitude of potential dangers for drivers, while reduced visibility can increase the likelihood of becoming involved in a collision or serious accident. If you have to drive regularly in harsh conditions or you’re thinking of embarking on a road trip to see loved ones this winter, what measures can you take to stay safe on the roads?
How colder weather can affect your vehicle
While most modern vehicles are fairly resistant to harsh weather conditions, cold temperatures can wreak havoc with your car, impairing functionality and leaving you more vulnerable to accidents. In particular, cold and damp weather can affect your car’s starter motor, fuel system, oil system and battery, often leaving you unable to start the vehicle. To avoid potential accidents and ensure your car is properly maintained during the winter, regularly check your car’s internal systems and try to charge your battery at least once a week, especially if it’s more than three years old.
Carry out checks before setting off
In the same way that regularly checking your car’s system and the battery is essential in the winter, you must carry out some essential checks before setting out on the road, no matter how short the journey may be. This includes clearing the windows of frost and ice with a scraper (never hot water) and checking traffic reports and weather forecasts. It’s worth noting that worn tyres are extremely dangerous, especially in icy conditions – check that your tyres are fully inflated before setting off on your journey and never drive with worn tyres in the winter months. Allow plenty of extra time for your journey and ensure that you can be easily contacted, just in case the worst should happen.
Keep safety equipment in your car
While an emergency car kit is always recommended for long drives and road trips, emergency equipment is even more important if you’re driving in winter weather conditions. It’s worth noting that, while many vehicles such as crossbacks have integrated safety systems, you can’t rely on your car alone. At a bare minimum, make sure that you’ve packed winter essentials including an ice scraper, de-icer, torch, in-car phone charger, jump leads, warning triangles and a shovel. Also, ensure that you’ve packed some hi-vis apparel and plenty of warm clothing and blankets in case you get stuck in cold conditions.
Perhaps most importantly of all, make sure that you drive carefully in the winter and be mindful of potential hazards at all times. Try to drive slower than you usually would and leave a wider stopping distance than normal to allow for icy roads; if you are driving in icy conditions, remember to crank up those gears for extra vehicle control and always make the most of your vehicle’s lights and heating controls. Remember to take your time and be cautious.