The Dangers Of Winter Driving And How To Prepare Yourself

With winter starting to rear its ugly head it's even more important for motorists to be aware of the dangers on the road.

Whether you're a white van man, a seasoned truck haulier or a young driver out on the road for the first time this winter it's always good to cover the basic rules of safety when driving.

  • Carry out an initial check of your vehicle at the start of the winter - including the engine for oil levels, antifreeze, air filter, etc. In addition it's worth checking your wiper blades and washer fluid.

  • Remember to give yourself plenty of time to prepare your car (especially if it's icy) - driving off without de-frosting your vehicle properly could leave you exposed to hazards on the road.

  • So make sure your vehicle's windows and mirrors are clear of ice and snow before you take to the road - incidentally it's also worth clearing the vehicle's roof if it's got snow on it. The snow may slip off whilst you're driving and obscure your view.

  • Use your headlights sensibly - if you're driving in the rain then it's advised that you use your headlights as this will make you more visible on the road. It's also recommended that you put your lights on an hour before the sun sets and keep them on for an hour after the sun rises (if driving) during the winter as it can be difficult for other motorists to see you during twilight.

  • On wet days it's a good idea to have your vehicle's heater controls switched on as rain can make the windows mist up quickly. In fact - it's not a bad idea to have these switched on when it's cold anyway…

  • Strong winds - in wet or cold weather strong winds can be a real hazard - potentially unsettling or even moving your vehicle around whilst on the move. So it's important to maintain a firm grip on the steering wheel and be more aware and conscientious of other road users - including motorcyclists and flat-sided vehicles (e.g. a lorry or truck).

  • Keep an eye on your vehicle's battery - it's important to keep the top of your battery clean and dry as well as ensuring that the terminals are tight and free from any corrosion. Experts suggest that batteries older than 3 - 4 years are more susceptible to fail in cold weather so should be checked (and replaced if necessary) before the cold spell really kicks in.

  • Make sure you have the essentials ready to hand - including a de-icer, shovel, food, water, a fully charged mobile phone, spare warm clothing, waterproofs, spare tyre, battery jumper cable, first-aid kit and a map. Whilst this may seem a little extreme with all the snow and ice the UK has had in the past few years it's not bad to be prepared!

By using some common sense mixed with the suggestions we've made above you are far less likely to have driving and vehicle operating problems in the winter months.

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