Snow can be great fun for kids but it can also lead to unpredictable and dangerous road conditions for drivers. Driving in snow and icy conditions can be unsettling and hazardous, so preparation is key.
Here are 12 top tips for winter driving to keep the whole family safe.
Tips for Winter Driving
Driving in wintry conditions can be stressful and tricky. Drivers have to contend with black ice, for example, which is hard to spot and can cause skidding. The sun sitting low in the sky and its rays reflecting off the snow can also dazzle drivers and don’t forget car radiators can freeze during a cold snap.
Before driving in snow or icy conditions, consider if the journey is absolutely necessary, especially when children are involved. If you need to drive then take care and remember to slow down. Keep your insurance company’s breakdown assistance number handy in case you need to call.
#1. Plan Your Route
Plan your route carefully so you can avoid minor roads. You are better sticking to the main roads which are safer and more likely to be gritted.
#2. Avoid Bulky Winter Clothes
Although you want to wrap your little ones up to keep them warm, don’t strap your child into a car seat with a bulky coat as it can affect the ability of your car seat to do its job. A bulky coat can compress in a crash and create a loose car seat harness, putting your child at greater risk of injury in the unlikely event of a crash.
To keep your child warm, you can place a blanket (or even the coat) over the tightened car seat belt.
#3. Make Sure You Have a Full Tank of Fuel
In the event that you end up stranded, it’s important to have a full tank of fuel so you can keep the engine running to stay warm. When you are able to safely drive again, you will also have enough fuel to make the journey home.
#4. Pack a Winter-Ready Emergency Kit
You should always keep a winter-ready emergency kit in the boot or trunk of your car, year-round. They don’t take much space and you can add in the perishable items when you know colder temperatures are coming.
The kit should include items such as an ice scraper, high viz jackets for the entire families, blankets and necessities such as baby food, formula and water. You may never need these items but it is reassuring to have the kit ready just in case.
#5. Clear Snow Off The Roof of Your Car
Before hopping in your vehicle, clear the snow off your roof. If you don’t, the built-up snow could easily slide down while driving and block your view. Also, if you leave snow on your roof and it freezes overnight it’s more difficult to get off the next day.
#6. Use Dipped Headlights
When driving in snow or fog make sure to use your dipped headlights. It will ensure your visibility is not reduced and you are seen by other road users.
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#7. Listen to the Surface
If you’re driving along and the crunching sound of your car driving on snow suddenly stops, this could be an indication that you’re now driving on ice.
#8. Drive in a High Gear
Driving in a high gear is crucial as this reduces the number of revs and it will prevent the wheels from spinning.
#9. Turn Slowly
When turning corners approach the corner very slowly and turn the wheel as slowly and gently as possible. Rapid turning may cause the vehicle to skid.
#10. Brake Gradually
Allow considerable extra distance when stopping and slow down gradually. Do not brake suddenly as this will cause the vehicle to slide.
#11. More Distance
The “2 second rule” that you may remember from learning to drive is the distance you should ideally keep from the car in front of you under normal road conditions.
However in icy weather, this should be tripled, so 6 seconds.
#12. If You Skid, Don’t Brake
Tips for winter driving will always include this one, do not brake if you skid. If you do, this may prolong the skid. If you find your car skidding, take your foot off the accelerator and wait for the skid to stop.
If you begin to spin, steer the car in the direction the rear of your car is sliding. Don’t overcorrect, or you’ll need to turn in the opposite direction.
Stay safe when driving!
A big thanks to Carzone for providing these tips.