When the cold weather hits the UK, the conditions change drastically, so it’s essential to adapt your driving style to match the roads. Not only that, but you also need to adequately prepare your vehicle beforehand should things take a turn for the worst.
In order to help keep you safe and stay on top of the weather, we’ve put together a list of useful winter driving tips.
How do I prepare my vehicle for UK winter weather?
While the UK doesn’t experience the same severe weather conditions as other countries in the winter, it would be a mistake to ignore the risks that the colder weather presents. In 2014, there were 29 fatalities on UK roads as a result of snow and ice, with a further 2,525 injuries according to the Department for Transport (DfT).
There are several ways in which you can prepare your vehicle for the winter, the most important of which we’ve listed below.
Consider the use of winter tyres
When the seasons change so do the road conditions. Tyres that may have been perfect for the hot, dry roads of summer won’t be as reliable in winter. That’s because winter tyres have a different tread pattern and a softer rubber consistency that improves braking, steering and grip in colder temperatures below 7°C.
In Europe, it is a legal requirement for certain countries to have winter tyres due to the harsh conditions they are presented with. While this law does not extend to the UK, it is still better to be prepared rather than risk compromising the safety of both your fleet and your employees.
As a fleet manager, knowing the importance of keeping well-maintained tyres can be a major factor in reducing running costs. The constantly changing pressure could cause them to deflate quicker than when the air is warm and constant, therefore undertaking regular checks will ensure your vehicle can continue to perform at its best.
Carry out regular vehicle health checks
The colder climate can play havoc with our vehicles, whether it’s frosted windscreens in the mornings or more serious, permanent issues. We have put together some useful tips on what checks to carry out to keep your vehicle healthy during the winter months:
As the temperature dips, it’s worth checking over your tyres to ensure they are safe to use in winter. An icy road can be unforgiving on poorly maintained tyres, so you need to keep an eye out for telltale signs such as a bulge or blister on the sidewall, lacerations or other significant damage, or if the tread wear is below 1.6mm.
While having a build-up of frost and ice on your windscreen can be annoying, failing to address it could put you at serious risk. Ice can increase the chances of smudges and blurring on your windscreen, even when you have removed the ice – and if you combine this with a low winter sun it can restrict your view almost entirely. Stocking up on some decent anti-freeze should easily remove all layers of ice and frost, while regularly checking and replenishing window cleaning fluids can speed up the process.
Your vehicle’s engine requires a lot more power during the cold winter months, so your battery is going to be in for a hard time. Lights and heaters are the biggest threats to draining a battery, so if your vehicle is quite old it could give out sooner than expected. Before the cold arrives, it’s advised that you have your electrical system tested and, if need be, upgrade the battery to cope with the conditions.
The last thing you need when the temperature plummets is for your engine to seize up, but this is exactly what can happen if you fail to check your oil levels. Fortunately, this is easy to avoid with either a simple dip-stick test or by checking your vehicle’s HUD for a warning signal. Drivers are encouraged to carry out these checks on a weekly-basis.
As the nights become darker, it’s easy to take your vehicle’s lights for granted. Poor visibility can have a profound effect on not just your vision, but other road users too. Latest figures have also shown that nearly 85% of councils in England and Wales have, or are planning to, dim street lights, which is an obvious cause for concern during the winter months.
With the arrival of winter, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is prepared for the conditions. With ServicePoint, drivers and fleet managers can benefit from fleet servicing, maintenance, repairs and MOTs to help keep your vehicles in top condition. In addition to this, should one of your vehicles break down or you fill up with the wrong fuel, the AA’s Breakdown and Fuel Assist programmes will be on hand to help.
Whether you own a company that operates a fleet or you are a fleet driver yourself, considering the implications that the weather can have on your operation is necessary. The winter period often leads to more traffic and congestion on the roads, while deliveries may even take longer to unload due to the conditions.
For more information on how Allstar can help you, call our team on 0345 266 5101.