Driving in winter in the UK can be challenging and many drivers may be intimidated to be on the roads this time of year.
From dark nights to black ice, winter elements can make it difficult to get where you need to be. To help, we’ve shared our top tips for driving safely this winter!
What do I need to know about driving in the winter?
No matter how experienced of a driver you are, driving in winter can come with its difficulties that you should be aware of. In winter, it is more important than ever to regularly check your vehicle, as well as the road conditions.
You may expect to see ice, snow, heavy rain and strong winds this winter, all of which can make it difficult to drive in. You should therefore ensure you are driving at appropriate speeds, and double checking all of your surroundings.
Some things to keep an eye out for include:
- Black ice
- Road signs, specifically on motorways
- The distance between cars in front and behind you
- Your stopping distance
How do you stay safe on the road in the winter?
Stopping distances can be 10 times longer when road conditions are poor, which is why there are several measures you should take to stay safe this winter.
Before you set off:
- Check your route for congestion
- Allow extra time for journeys
- Plan routes which will have likely been cleared and gritted
- Check fuel levels
- Fully clear your windows
- Ensure your mobile is sufficiently charged
Driving on the roads:
- Set off in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch to avoid wheel spin
- Use brakes gently
- Leave plenty of space between you and the car ahead if driving uphill
- Use low gears when going downhill
Remember to be extra cautious when driving in poor conditions, ensuring you are fully aware of your surroundings and sticking to appropriate speeds and manoeuvres.
Top winter driving tips
Battling with the elements of winter can be scary, but following the tips below should help to ease your nerves.
Keep your distance
As we’ve mentioned, your stopping distance is likely to increase by up to 10 times during poor weather conditions. For example, what may be a 2 second stopping distance may become 10+ seconds.
Driving too close to the vehicle in front of you can increase the risk of a crash because you simply won’t be able to break in time. Make sure you leave plenty of space in front of you, ideally about two car lengths, and always break slowly where possible.
Drive in a higher gear
When you’re just starting your car, it’s a good idea to start in a higher gear as it will give you a better grip.
For example, if you’re on a slight incline or in an area which is particularly icy, start your car in second gear and slowly move your foot off the clutch. This will ensure your car has good grip, and will prevent your wheels from spinning.
Check your tyres and alloys
Your grip will be considerably reduced in winter, so you should always be checking your tires to make sure they have at least 3 mm of tread. Grip drastically begins to deteriorate below 3 mm, so make sure you keep an eye on them and replace them when necessary.
You should also be checking your alloys too. If they have any bends, scratches or cracks, you should be looking into repairing your alloy wheels. If your alloys are already damaged, the cold weather conditions can cause increased damage to them.
This damage can affect the stability of your car in difficult conditions, which is why you should always get them checked in order to prevent road accidents.
Take your time
The last thing you want to be doing in wintery conditions is rushing about. With a potential lack of experience on the road and not leaving until the last minute, it can cause a lot of unnecessary stress.
When driving in winter, take your time on the roads and give yourself as much time as possible by leaving earlier than you normally would.
Carry a breakdown kit
Keeping essentials in your car for a breakdown may not be an initial priority, but you will thank yourself if your car was to break down.
Make sure you have a blanket, a torch, plenty of charge in your phone, water and any other winter essentials you may need whilst waiting for assistance.
Keep your fuel topped up
Whilst it’s never a good idea to be careless with how much fuel you have in your car, running out of fuel and breaking down is far more hazardous in the winter compared to summer.
Keep your tank topped up to at least halfway to always ensure you have enough.