Winter Driving – It’s Snow Joke
Pretty though it is to look at, snow unfortunately seems to bring the country grinding to a halt.
Even when there has been a minuscule snowfall leaving a couple of centimetres worth of the white stuff on the ground everything turns to chaos. Public transport of all kinds withdraw their schedules at the drop of a hat, schools close, hospitals go onto an emergency-only basis and – let’s be honest here – some of us grab the opportunity for an unscheduled duvet day!
Why Is the UK Unable to Cope with Bad Weather and Winter Driving?
A large part of this has to do with costs. Local authorities always use the excuse that they can’t afford to prepare for bad weather by keeping sufficient supplies of grit or enough gritting lorries.
In places like Scandinavia or Canada they routinely have heavy snowfall and are expert in dealing with it; drivers are expected to change their tyres over to snow tyres or fit snow chains. Many European countries however suffer the same problems as us and for the same reasons – affordability.
Taking Extra Care on Dangerous Roads
For the most part UK drivers are lucky enough to do most of their driving in fairly good weather conditions and can be caught out when bad weather arrives.
As so many drivers seem unable to drive competently on wet, icy or snowy roads perhaps it is time for skidpan sessions to be included in driving lessons?
Our roads can become dangerous when snow and ice become compacted or when rainfall is very heavy. In these conditions it helps to understand that heavy use of the brakes can cause a vehicle to ‘aquaplane’; when tyres have very little grip and therefore brakes have little or no effect.
Winter driving, what you can do:
- Drive at lower speeds than usual
- Drive in lower gears to maximise use of the engine braking system and gain better control of the vehicle
- Avoid harsh acceleration and hard braking
- Leave enough room between your car and the vehicle in front
There are essential things you can do to prepare your vehicle for bad weather:
- Keep tyres correctly inflated and replace worn tyres
- Keep windscreen washers topped up with water and cleaning fluid
- Make sure the vehicle radiator is correctly filled with antifreeze
- Keep the fuel tank topped up to avoid running out if you get caught up in a jam
- Ensure all windows are clear of snow and ice before setting off
- Keep emergency supplies in your car like a torch, warm blanket, sturdy shoes and warm clothing, food and water, ice scraper and shovel. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged in case you need to call anyone in an emergency situation.
Prepare for your journey
In truth although we are told to drive only if essential, in the real world we do need to get to places when the snow comes. In order to keep safe think about the following:
- Plan your journey, with alternative routes should you get stuck.
- Do not rush, make sure you leave plenty of time for your journey.
- Listen to traffic reports
- Let people know that you are travelling and let them know your arrival time and journey route.
- If you are being advised by local authorities not to travel, seriously consider the journey and if it really is essential!
Looking after your car and yourself when driving in winter will certainly help to make winter driving more bearable – no matter how cold it gets.Back to all help and advice articles