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Winter Driving - If you have to drive, here’s the advice

Driving Tips

The Facts 

  • The performance of standard tyres deteriorates when the temperature drops below 7 deg C [1]
  • Frost and wet patches can linger in some areas after they have disappeared elsewhere - under trees, crossing bridges, areas exposed to winds, areas shadowed by buildings [2]
  • ABS systems will be less effective on ice and snow, increasing stopping distances [2]
  • Black ice is hard to spot and is caused by rain falling on an already frozen surface [2]

The Advice

  1. Re-fuel the night before the journey; check radio/TV for traffic and weather updates
  2. Keep breakdown recovery contact numbers in the vehicle
  3. Do a POWDER check: Petrol or diesel for the journey; sufficient Oil and other fluids? Water for washers, radiator, drinking; Damage to lights, windows, mirrors, number plates; Electrics - bulbs, wipers, horn and warning lights, Rubber; tyres, wiper blades
  4. Remove ice and snow from all windows before moving off; keep windows clear thereafter
  5. Set dashboard air outlets towards door windows to improve wing mirror visibility
  6. Use dipped headlights so that others can see you
  7. Only travel at a speed at which you will be able to stop within the distance you can see to be clear
  8. Avoid harsh braking and acceleration or aggressive steering, as these actions can lead to skids; reduce your speed smoothly and use brakes gently
  9. Drive in the highest gear as soon as possible but ensure it offers engine braking when the accelerator is released, crucial when descending slopes or hills
  10. When in snow and ice, use engine braking through the gears; just touch the brake pedal lightly to show brake lights to others behind
  11. A lack of road noise could indicate the presence of ice. Increase your following distance by ten times when driving on ice
  12. Fresh snow can provide better grip at low speeds than compacted snow, which is effectively ice
  13. On a journey, take: high visibility jacket, torch, mobile phone & charger, warning triangle, spare bulbs, serviceable spare tyre and first aid kit
  14. Other essential equipment: de-icer & screen wash, shovel, non-slip carpet to place under driving wheels if stuck, warm clothes, drinking water , high grip boots/shoes, snow chains/tyre socks, jump leads and tow rop

Sources [1] DfT Road Research Report #51 [2] DVLA Report 2013

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