November is almost upon us, the cold weather is beginning to set in and we are entering a period when driving conditions become much tougher. There’s no need to worry though, as we’re on hand to give you some crucial advice that will help keep you safe on the busy winter roads.
- Make sure you and your car are prepared for the winter
Don’t take any risks. Take your car (no matter how new/old) to have a winter health check ahead of the really bitterly cold weather. Confirmation from a professional that your vehicle is fully equipped to deal with the harsh winter months will provide peace of mind. A new set of winter tyres, a new set of spark plugs or ensuring you have enough anti-freeze could ensure you don’t have any mishaps or aren’t left stranded in the cold. Secondly, you need to make sure you yourself are prepared for the winter months. Despite that lovely air-conditioning system, it can get VERY cold outside, and if your car breaks down or air-conditioning fails you need to be suitably dressed and equipped. Always make sure you leave the house with a warm coat, and enough drinking water and food to last a few hours in case you end up stranded in the middle of nowhere awaiting a breakdown rescue.
- Drive to the conditions
This may seem like an obvious answer but it is remarkable how many people ignore it. Drive slower. The roads in winter are much more dangerous than they are during the summer, tyres provide less grip as they are colder, and worse still, the roads are likely to get icy in the very near future. Decrease your overall speed but most importantly decrease the speed in which you accelerate and decelerate. Wheel spin or skidding on ice are the most common causes of accidents throughout the winter so prevent it from being an issue. The normal rule of the road that you should remain three to four seconds behind the vehicle travelling in front of you should be increased to between eight and ten seconds.
- Do not use cruise control or rely on technology
Car technology is a phenomenal thing and the motoring industry has seen remarkable improvements across the board in recent years. Adaptive Cruise Control is one such breakthrough that is common place among modern cars. The ability to remain a specified distance behind the car in front of you or to remain at a certain speed are great aids when driving long distances, but the technology isn’t perfected in wintery conditions, nor is it aware of the road conditions, whether they be wet, icy, or worse, both. Sudden downpours are also regular and we all know that automated window wipers have a slight mishap in them so be sure to set the speed and setting of these yourself as to not get caught out by a torrential shower.
- Check your route
We would always advise checking your route regardless of the weather, due to lengthy delays, bad traffic or extensive roadworks but it becomes even more important through the winter, where accidents are up, cars are travelling slower due to the conditions and road closures are common due to snowfall. So be prepared and organised, check your route and ensure the roads are safe and if not find an alternate journey or if worst comes to worst, see point 5.
- Stay home or pull over
We are lucky enough in this country it doesn’t happen all too often, but if you feel in anyway in danger or not in control, stay at home and don’t risk the conditions. If work allows you to, try and work from home on particularly harsh days or if you live a long commute from work, discuss with your manager possible solutions to ensuring you aren’t left stranded either travelling to or from work. If you are already out on the road and the weather takes a turn for the worse, find a safe place to pull over and remain there until the weather clears up. This is where point 1 is so crucial, as you be stranded for some time, and ensuring you have the right provisions on you to stay warm and hydrated could be crucial.