Driving in Winter Weather

07 December

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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.

Floods

  • It’s safest to try to find an alternative route, even if you have an off-roader.
  • 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.
  • But 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.

Heavy rain

  • 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 breakdown don’t open the bonnet in pouring rain – you’ll damage the car electrical system.
  • If your steering suddenly feels light and unresponsive, you could be aquaplaning. Don’t brake, ease off the accelerator and gentle steer to safety.

Snow

  • Use low revs and higher gears. Accelerate gradually and, if you can, move away in second gear to reduce wheel spin.
  • Obviously 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.

High winds

  • 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.
  • Avoid parking under trees.

Fog

  • 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.

For more detail about winter driving visit the AA and to find out further info, click here

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