It’s now that time of the year when driving on British roads can be very dangerous. Invicta Insurance Services have put together a list of steps that should be followed when driving in wintry conditions. Please remember that although you may be capable and experienced in driving in wintry conditions, other road users may not be! To maximise ongoing safety on the roads, follow our guide to ensure you are prepared for any possible circumstance.
Plan Your Travel
Before you travel, it is very important to look ahead and beat your surrounding conditions. Take a look at online maps for viewing live traffic alerts and aim to stay on main roads to prevent following rural routes with worse conditions. Most importantly, ensure your vehicle is suitable for any road hazard. These factors include:
Checking your wipers – If you have the option, turn off your automatic wiper setting to prevent blowing the fuse due to being frozen, do not use your wipers unless necessary.
Check your tyres – Ensure that you check your tyre pressures. You can find your recommended pressures at https://www.kwik-fit.com/tyres/information/tyre-pressure-search. In addition, ensure your tread meets legal guidelines that can be found here.
Visibility – Remove all snow from the vehicles windows, mirrors and roof to prevent limited visibility when driving. Under section 229 of the Highway Code, it is illegal to drive with snow on the roof as the snow may fall onto your windscreen or fall back on vehicles behind. Failure to clear snow from your vehicle could land you with a £60 fine and three points on your licence.
Pack essentials – In case of breakdown, getting stuck or severe traffic, bring warm clothing on your journey, including Hi-Vis jackets.
Control Your Speed
Remember, in wintery conditions, your vehicle becomes less controllable. Your stopping distance increases to 10 times the standard stopping distance, meaning that you will need to be aware of your speed and the vehicles around you. If your vehicle has a ‘winter’ mode, it is highly recommended that you use this. In bad snow situations, pulling away in second gear can also prevent the loss of traction and regain in control. If you face unforeseen challenges, such as steep hills, your vehicle may not be capable. The best decision to be made would be to find an alternative route and not to challenge the conditions as it may result in an accident.
Beware Of Your Surroundings
Driving smoothly should be a high priority when driving in snow or ice. All of your inputs should remain smooth and gradual as any sudden contact with your accelerator, steering or brakes can lead to your tyres losing grip on the surface leading to the loss of control of your vehicle. When the term ‘be aware of your surroundings’ in these conditions is used, it usually refers to your fellow road users. As mentioned, although you may be able to drive efficiently using the above steps, other road users may struggle, so remember to be alert.
Remember what you were taught in your driving test, use your blind spots when pulling out on junctions, switching lanes or turning into a road. This is important particularly in severe weather conditions as you may leave other drivers less time to action your mistake especially with that increased stopping distance time
Breaking Down Or Getting Stuck
If for any reason you unexpectedly breakdown or become stuck/stranded in the snow, do not panic. Make sure you are in a safe place and remain in the vehicle at all times whilst you wait for assistance. Keep your engine running and heater on to remain warm. If possible, ensure your exhaust is clear of any snow as this could lead to carbon monoxide poising as the gas may start to build up in your vehicle.
Remember, in very bad conditions avoid driving completely unless you really have to and you have no other option than to drive.
Is your vehicle legally covered this winter? Feel free to call us on 01732 471950 if you require any assistance in respect of your motor insurance or for further information.