When the weather creates incredibly dangerous conditions the first thing to think about is how necessary your journey is. If your journey is necessary, there are several things drivers can take into consideration to ensure they are safe this winter.
Pentagon’s Top 10 Tips for Winter Driving
- Clear the snow – before starting your journey make sure that the roof and bonnet of your car are clear of snow and that all windows are free of snow/ice – this ensures that you can see correctly and don’t endanger other road users with snow flying off the roof. Remember that it is a legal requirement to clear the snow from your car.
- All of the Lights - before you start, check all lights are in working order to help with visibility and keep other road users informed of your movements. Indicators should be used with more notice than usual to allow drivers to plan road moves. Drivers also need to ensure they drive with appropriate lighting, i.e. dipped headlights in snow and using fog lights if necessary
- Stay alert - do not drive if you are feeling tired or unwell and keep watch for potential hazards
- Pedal Control - accelerating and braking should be as smooth as possible to avoid skidding and lane diversion. Ensure you’re driving at a safe, slow speed and planning your road moves ahead to stay safe. Braking distances are multiplied by ten for icy conditions so if you are travelling at 20mph you should leave a gap of 120 metres rather than the usual 12
- Gear Changes - you may need to drive slowly in a higher gear to give more power to the engine and prevent the car from stalling or skidding. This will also improve grip when pulling off in icy conditions
- Hidden Danger - black ice is extremely difficult to identify. When driving in wintery conditions be cautious of glossy, wet patches on the road and don’t hit the brakes as this can cause skidding. If you do skid, drivers should steer into the skid direction to counteract the action and set the car straight
- Uphill Struggle - when driving uphill, do slowly and with plenty of room in front of you so you can drive at a steady speed and avoid having to stop. Apply extra acceleration as you pull off to give you the power you need and reduce as you come back downhill
- Winding Roads - if driving on winding roads, brake before you start to turn to avoid a slip into the bend. If you do slip, avoid braking and ease off the accelerator to slow down instead
- Tyre Grip - make sure your tyres are in good condition. The minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm but in extreme conditions 4mm is considered more suitable and ensure pressures are correct
- Planning Ahead - plan your route in advance and check for road closures or traffic jams before travelling to avoid any distractions. Leave plenty of time for your route so you don’t rush and ensure that your tank has at least half a tank of petrol to avoid freezing. Check local travel websites or listen to your local radio station to hear the latest travel and weather updates
- Pack the Boot - your car needs to be packed with the following winter essentials before you set off on your journey. Taking these with you should help you to rescue your car in the dangerous conditions:
- Extra screenwash
- De-icer for windscreens
- Ice scraper
- Warm drink or water
- Warm clothing and footwear – if you get stuck, a car can get very cold.
It’s important to stay safe in this weather and following the above tips as well as taking extra time and care with a journey is the best way to start any journey.
For more information on winter proofing products such as safety vests, warning triangles and snow chains please visit your local Pentagon dealership or call 0333 222 0424.