4x4 taking bend in wintery conditions

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Winter motoring safety tips

Winter driving tips

Of all the seasons, it's winter that probably presents the most challenging conditions for motorists. Plummeting temperatures combined with snow and ice can cause even the most experienced drivers problems.

However, there are simple steps we can all take to make driving safer during the colder months.

Before you set off

  • Ensure your windscreen, windows and mirrors are kept clean  snow or ice on these surfaces can impact visibility 
  • Check your wipers and top up on windscreen washer fluid — debris and dirt can also be distracting and affect your view, whilst your wipers need to be in good working order to deal with increased rain and snow fall chances. You should also be sure to buy winter ready screen wash
  • Check your lights  faulty bulbs or fuses could prevent your headlights, indicators or brake lights from working when you need them most
  • Remove any snow from your bonnet and roof — this can blow off at speed and create a hazard for you and other motorists
  • Check your tyres — grip is going to be important and this means your tyres need to be in a good condition. Although the legal limit for tread is 1.6mm, we recommend having at least 3mm tread. In really wintry conditions consider using snow chains or snow socks
  • Plan your journey — give thought to locations which might be badly affected, such as flood prone areas and monitor local weather forecasts
  • Continually check for mechanical faults — cold weather can exacerbate underlying mechanical problems so regularly monitor your brakes, fuel and oil levels and immediately investigate any unusual noises.

It is recommended that you should carry the following in your car:

  • Ice scraper
  • ​​Torch and spare batteries
  • Warm clothes and blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Empty fuel can
  • Shovel
  • Road atlas
  • Phone charger
  • Warm clothes and blankets
  • High-visibility jacket
  • ​Boots with good grip
  • Jump start cables
  • Food and drink
  • Reflective warning sign
  • Sunglasses

 

While you’re on the road

  • Stay in as high as gear as possible on slippery roads — alongside keeping your revs low, this reduces the chance of spinning your wheels and losing control 
  • Pay attention to your speed and distance between cars — in wet conditions you should double the distance you would normally leave and in snowy and icy weather this should increase up to ten-fold
  • Slow down when approaching a bend — you should already have slowed before entering a bend, but if you do begin to skid steer gently into it. For example, if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the wheel or brake hard
  • Use dipped headlights in heavy rain and snow — daytime running lights may not be adequate. If visibility falls below 100m then use your fog lights
  • Be aware of specific conditions — even if you think a frost has thawed, areas such as roads under bridges are often the first to freeze and take longer to thaw.

Autumn Driving Tips

Autumn in the UK means less daylight, colder temperatures, rain and fallen leaves - all of which can present challenges for car drivers. By following these tips, you can ensure that you are prepared for the changing conditions and autumnal roads.

Before you set off

  • Check your windscreen wipers and washer fluid — wipers are likely to have been used less in the summer and worn wipers can result in poor visibility. Falling leaves may also lead to a build-up of debris so ensuring you're topped up on screen wash is essential
  • Check your tyres — worn tyres won't be able to cope with slippery roads so make sure you have adequate tread of at least 1.6mm
  • Have a mechanic assess your electrical system — wetter weather coupled with cold mornings can cause problems for batteries, spark plugs and leads. Have a mechanic test your electrical system for any potential faults.

While you’re on the road

  • Be mindful of overloaded batteries — the more frequent use of heating, lighting and wiper use puts extra demand on car batteries during Autumn. If your motor whirrs sluggishly or lights appear dim then your battery may need replacing
  • Keep inlets clear — leaves can find their way into air inlets, potentially causing engines to overheat. If your windscreen keeps steaming up, take a look at the inlets below the windscreen wipers and under the bonnet and remove any leaves caught in there
  • Be wary of slippery roads — fallen leaves, along with mud on the road can be slippery in wet conditions. You should exercise caution in these circumstances and not travel round corners too quickly. Fallen leaves can also cover potholes and dips, so make sure you're driving carefully enough to deal with hidden surprises
  • Don't watch the fireworks — Autumn brings plenty of festivities such as Halloween and Bonfire night. Don't get distracted by the explosions in the sky whilst driving.

Summer Driving Tips

If you’re planning a staycation this year or intend on driving during the summer months, there are some simple preparations you can make to avoid problems associated with hot and dry weather.

Before you set off

  • Check your wipers and top up on windscreen washer fluid — debris and dirt on your windscreen is distracting and can also worsen the effect of any glare from the sun
  • Keep a pair of sunglasses handy — these are essential for those really sunny days, but make sure the lenses let in sufficient light to let you see properly  
  • Check your tyres — high temperatures can aggravate existing damage to rubber tyres so check they’re in good condition and are properly inflated. If your tyres are underinflated this can add to existing problems by increasing friction and heat and causing weak spots to fail, resulting in a blow-out or puncture
  • Check your coolant — check your coolant reservoir level regularly and look out for wet or white staining on coolant hoses which might indicate a leak. 

It is recommended that you should carry the following in your car to help you stay safe in the summer:

  • A first aid kit
  • ​​A fire extinguisher
  • An empty fuel can
  • A fully charge mobile phone and in-car charger
  • A light bulb kit 
  • Sun cream
  • Games for children
  • A warning triangle
  • High-visibility jacket
  • Engine oil and water for topping up
  • An up-to-date road map and/or sat-nav
  • Plenty of water and refreshments
  • Reflective warning sign
  • Sunglasses 

While you’re on the road

  • Be patient around slow-moving vehicles — getting stuck behind a tractor or construction vehicle can be frustrating – but dips in roads, bends and junctions can hide oncoming vehicles, so don’t overtake unless it's absolutely essential
  • Be careful around vulnerable road users —horse riders, cyclists and walkers are more likely to be sharing the highways with you during warmer periods so make sure you pass them slowly, giving them plenty of space
  • Watch out for changes in the weather — rain showers in the summer can make roads especially slick after a dry spell, so be prepared to alter your driving and take extra care.