2012 was the second wettest year on record1, with a whopping 4.3 feet of rain falling on UK roads throughout the course of the year compared with 3.7 feet in 2000, a portion of that rain turning to snow every single year since the dawn of the new Millennium. Needless to say this can make for rather treacherous driving conditions. Over 5000 people were injured2 due to winter road accidents in 2012 and car insurance companies were inundated with claims, the AA taking 500 in the first four days of January alone. 45% of these were attributed to snow and icy conditions3.
Whilst it may all sound rather bleak, there are thankfully some basic steps you can take to prepare yourself and your car for winter driving. The rather useful accompanying infographic highlights several driving tips and winter maintenance guidelines that can help keep both you and your car safe during the colder months.
Prepare Your Car
Avoid spinning on the ice by using second rather than first gear and remember to keep it slow; it’s not a race and there are no prizes for getting from A to B in the quickest time. Be sure to keep your vehicle, including the windscreen, roof and bonnet clean and clear especially if it snows, as flying chunks can be extremely hazardous to pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists. Plus, you’re going to need to have as much visibility as possible in rain, snow or thick fog, so be sure to de-mist and de-ice before setting off and don’t forget to ensure that headlights are also cleaned thoroughly. Car insurance companies will most likely want to know that you’ve done all you can to avoid an unfortunate prang before processing any claims.
Prepare Your Tyres
One of the best winter driving tips we can give you is to ensure that you have robust winter tyres fitted to your vehicle. They’re specially designed to handle hazardous road conditions that can arise at temperatures below 7 degrees Celsius. The more aggressive tread patterns hold icy roads better and their shape and layout allows water to be displaced quicker, particularly useful if you start aquaplaning through large standing puddles. Stopping distances are also considerably improved when driving in icy and snowy conditions by fitting winter tyres to your car.
A bit of simple preparation can go a long way when planning to venture out into the cold in your car. Keeping simple provisions such as imperishable foods, drinks, blankets and a snow shovel in the boot means that should you for some reason get stuck you’ll be able to keep both yourself and others comfortable. It’s also worth ensuring that your mobile phone is fully charged and topped up with credit, if applicable, before setting off in the event assistance is required or should you need to get in touch with loved ones. And remember, if you can’t navigate your way to the nearest petrol station that most likely means tankers can’t either, so keep an approved fuel canister topped up with a couple of litres in the boot as well.
Follow these simple steps and hopefully the British winter will be an easier and safer experience for you and your car.