Driving in Winter Weather
How to stay safe by adapting your driving to the winter weather
Some weather experts are predicting a mild winter in the UK, others are suggesting it will unusually severe. We've yet to experience it fully as yet - it has been so far, relatively mild. Whoever is right though, one thing is certain: the coming months will feature plenty of examples of adverse conditions for business drivers.
For those of us who have to get around whatever the weather, here is a quick guide to how to drive in the five worst types of British weather.
- Try to find an alternative route, even if you have an off-road vehicle.
- In some currents, a vehicle can be swept off the road in just a few inches of water.
- Water splashing into the engine bay may stall the engine and trying to restart with water in the intakes often destroys the engine.
- Water in the exhaust pipe can be similarly destructive.
- If you are forced to drive through standing water, proceed slowly in low gear with high revs and as smoothly as possible to create a wave of water in front of you.
- Reduce speed and leave more braking distance
- Turn on dipped headlights but not rear fog lights, which dazzle other drivers and mask your brake lights.
- If you break down, don’t open the bonnet in the pouring rain – you’ll damage the car electrical system.
- If your steering suddenly feels light and unresponsive, you could be aquaplaning. Don’t panic or brake, just ease off the accelerator and gentle steer to safety.
- Use low revs and higher gears. Accelerate gradually and, if you can, move away in second gear to reduce wheel spin.
- Don’t drive as fast as normal and leave much more braking space. Some experts say allow ten times more distance than normal.
- Avoid following in other’s tyres tracks where the compacted snow will be more slippery.
- If you start to skid, don’t stamp on the brake. Gently steer in the same direction as the skid until you regain control.
- Strong winds are rarely constant. Reduce speed so you can cope with sudden gusts that can get under your vehicle and adversely affect handling.
- Hold the wheel firmly and prepare for gusts as you pass high-sided vehicles.
- Take special care on high exposed bridges and if you are towing anything.
- Avoid parking under trees.
- Turn on dipped headlights and fog-lights.
- Note that automatic headlights may not turn on in fog, so do it manually.
- At severely foggy junctions, wind down your windows to listen for approaching vehicles.