How to Drive Safely in the Ice and Snow

With temperatures plummeting over the last few weeks and many parts of the UK experiencing ice and snow on the roads, it is important to know how to drive safely in such conditions. Winter driving is no easy feat, so here are some tips that should help.

Depending on the severity of the snow or ice, I would recommend only driving your car if it is necessary. I’m fully aware that you may continue to hear it on the forecast all of the time, but it’s said for a reason.  If you think that you are putting yourself or others in danger by using your car, don’t use it! Is your journey really that urgent or important? It may well be, but also ask yourself is it easier to walk to work or work from home? With the possible consequences, it might be better to stay in with a warm drink.

If you do decide to head out, always plan your route before you leave. This involves leaving in plenty of time so that you do not find yourself driving recklessly to get to work on time. Before any journey where you may find that things do not go to plan, I recommend packing a bag of supplies to keep in the boot of your car when the snow begins to fall. Such items include food and water, warm clothing, a blanket, a torch, first aid kit, a fully charged mobile phone and charger, jump leads, a shovel, ice scraper and some grit or sand. To ensure that you do not get lost, plan your route and try to stick to the main roads as much as possible. These roads are likely to have been gritted and cleared of ice and snow. Should you find yourself stuck in traffic, you must also make sure that your tank in full of fuel. In order to cope with the slippery conditions, it is important to make sure that your tyres have at least 2 mm of tread. If you can afford to get a pair of wintery tyres fitted, this will only enhance your driving performance on the ice.

As and when the snow begins to fall, it is imperative that you use your headlights, and don’t just assume that they are already on. Not only will this help to improve your vision but make oncoming vehicles aware of your whereabouts in good time. Even if it is not snowing it is always safer to have your dipped beam headlamps on, as snow clouds can cause the light levels to drop, whilst snow on the ground can also impact the level of glare on sunny days. It is important to pick the correct lights as fog lamps can dazzle other drivers and mustn’t be used unless the visibility is incredibly poor.

If you cast your mind back to your driving test, you’ll remember that icy conditions can increase your stopping distance. But can you remember by how much? A good rule of thumb is to leave around 20 seconds behind the car in front of you if the roads are icy, as it can take as much as ten times as long to stop on an icy road. To check to see if you are leaving enough space between you and the other car, watch them pass an object, be it a lamp post or sign and count to see how many seconds go by before you pass the same object. If it is under 20 seconds, you should back off and allow more space.

Driving in ice and snow though, isn’t just about leaving enough space in front. It requires a very different style of driving. You must be very smooth, slow and progressive when using your steering wheel, throttle or brake. Sudden changes can impact the amount of grip your tyres have on the road’s surface, causing your car to skid, spin or get stuck before you have even pulled away.

At the Bodyshop, we are specialists when it comes to car accidents repairs. However to avoid any accidents in the ice or snow, I recommend gently testing your brakes and steering every now and again to get a better idea of how icy the road is. Obviously, you should pick a straight, clear piece of road away from any junctions when you do so, ensuring no one is following you either. Also, you should remain aware of your surroundings and be sure to slow down with plenty of time to spare before you arrive at a corner. Not only will this prevent you from unsettling the car but also give you extra time to react to an unusual obstacle you may find in the road such as a fallen branch. What’s more if someone does slip or skid on the snow they may begin moving towards you from a direction you are not expecting. It pays to be aware of what going on from all directions.

If you have been unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident, contact the Bodyshop today. Let us take care of the worry and stress of an accident!

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