The next couple of months can be challenging for the motorist. Snow, ice and rain can make the roads treacherous, and it is important to be prepared for any difficult conditions you may encounter.

UK DPF have put together some useful tips for driving safely this winter.

Planning and Preparation

Firstly, is your journey necessary or could you postpone it until conditions improve? When travelling, allow extra time as traffic tends to be heavier and slower when the weather is bad, this can make your journey a lot less stressful should there be any delays.

If you don’t have breakdown cover it may be worth considering taking out a policy, more breakdowns occur over winter than at any other time. Charge your phone and take a car phone charger with you in case of emergency.

Always travel with a torch, your phone torch is unlikely to be very useful if you break down on an unlit road. A warm coat, waterproofs and decent walking boots together with drinks and a snack are very useful should you be waiting for assistance at any point.

Clear the Ice & Snow

If the windows are iced up, de-ice them with a scraper or use spray de-icer. Do not use warm water as the sharp temperature contrast could result in a cracked windscreen. Alternatively, cover the windscreen with a protector overnight to cut down the scraping time.

Remember to demist the interior windows so you have a clear view in all directions. Remove the snow from your bonnet and roof as these can cause visibility problems for you or another driver if it blows off your vehicle whilst driving. Failure to clear your vehicle could result in a hefty fine from the police. There is also the probability that in the event of an accident, your insurance company may refuse to pay out, as they would consider that you are at fault for not preparing your vehicle adequately for the road.

Smooth & Safe

To reduce the chance of skidding when driving change gear, accelerate, steer and brake smoothly and gently. Any quick actions can make the car jerk and lose control, take it slow and keep safe.

Space

When driving in bad conditions try to leave extra space between you and the car in front, wet and icy roads affect your tyre’s ability to grip and your breaking distance increases considerably. If you do skid do not turn the wheel abruptly to correct yourself or brake, instead take your foot off the accelerator and steer into the direction the skid is taking you until you feel the tyres regain grip, only then straighten the wheels to recover control.

Up Your Gear & Lower Your Speed

When the roads are very icy or snowy it is advisable to stay in a higher gear, this will help your vehicle keep better traction on any ice. Keep your speed lower and be aware that visibility can change quickly.

Pedestrian Awareness

Icy surfaces also impact pedestrians and cyclists so allow extra time for pedestrians to cross the road and give cyclists extra consideration when passing by. When roads are flooded take care when driving through puddles so that you do not spray pedestrians with water, this is not only very inconsiderate it is also a criminal offence, which could result in a fine up to a maximum of £5,000 and three penalty points on your licence.

Climbing up that Hill

When approaching stationary traffic on a hill, if possible, aim to stop before the hill, avoid carrying on up and having to stop halfway as you have a greater chance of sliding or having difficulty gaining traction when the traffic starts to move.

UKDPF wish you a Happy New Year and look forward to seeing you in 2024.