Shorter daylight hours, reduced visibility, adverse weather conditions; these all present their own challenges, no matter how experienced a driver you are. Throw in other road users, who are often less capable of handling winter conditions, and it’s easy to see why incidents and accidents increase as the nights draw in.
Whether travelling to a meeting or delivering a parcel, winter driving can be challenging, but there are things that you can do to stay safe on the road.
Here are our top tips to keep you road-ready, whatever the weather throws at us this winter.
1. Be prepared
Making sure that your vehicle is winter-ready could make all the difference when conditions take a turn for the worse. Add the following to your weekly driver vehicle checks and you’ll put yourself in a good position to stay safe on the road.
- Check indicators, lights, and windows. Keep them clean and free from ice or snow
- Make sure your wipers work properly and don’t smear – replace if necessary
- Keep windscreen wiper fluid levels topped up
- Check your tyre pressures when cold, weekly
- Keep an eye on tyre tread, maintaining at least 3mm will aid winter driving
- If you’re operating in areas where snow is frequent, consider changing to winter tyres
- Check your battery is fully charged
- Ensure your antifreeze levels are correct
2. Be alert
- Allow extra time for journeys
- Maintain greater distance from the vehicle in front; wet roads require twice the stopping distance and increase tenfold in icy conditions
- Keep your fuel tank at least a quarter full
- Remain up to date with weather forecasts
- Avoid water deeper than 10 cm
- Test your brakes if you pass through standing water
- Reduce your speed when the conditions require it
- Avoid harsh acceleration and cornering, and be sure to brake appropriately in wet or icy conditions
- Stay alert and watch out for muddy roads
- If you do breakdown, attempt to get your vehicle off the road safely and inform the police and recovery services as appropriate
3. Be equipped
- Carry a warning triangle
- Take spare windscreen wash and anti-freeze
- Make sure your first aid kit is packed and adequately supplied
- Pack warm clothes, gloves, a blanket and a high vis jacket
- Keep a store of high-energy food and snacks, and remember to take plenty to drink
- Remember your in-car mobile phone charger
- Consider traction mats
Much of this advice will be familiar, but it’s all too easy to forget following many months of warm, dry weather. Keeping this simple checklist on your smartphone, and using it to get your works vehicle or company car winter-ready could make all the difference when it matters most.
Half an hour today, could be lifesaving tomorrow.