Safety Tips for Winter Driving
When you first get your driving license there are a lot of driving conditions you probably won’t have much experienced of, such as driving in the dark or out in the wilderness a long way from any help, for example. But even when you've been driving for years there are some conditions you're not going to be experiencing all the time, so it makes sense to brush up on how you should cope with the differences. The best example is when it comes to winter, so here are our safety tips for winter driving to help you out.
It may seem obvious, but don't leave your car running in an enclosed area such as your garage. In the cold weather it can be tempting to have it running to warm things up for you before you set off, but the exhaust fumes will build up and carbon monoxide is deadly.
Always make sure your gas tank is at least half full. You can take all the precautions you like but there's always the possibility you could get stuck somewhere, and if you do, you'll need to keep the car running for the heater to work and you'll still need enough gas to get to your destination when things clear.
Check your tyre pressures before you set off on a journey in your car. Your tyres are designed to work best at their optimum pressure, so making sure they're correctly inflated will give you the best possible handling and traction. Forget the urban myth about lowering tyre pressures to give better traction by the way, it's an urban myth for a reason.
Modern cars with their ABS braking systems, traction control and other such aids are a big help in winter conditions, but don't let them make you complacent. Take everything much more slowly when you're driving on snow or ice. Everything takes longer in these conditions. Accelerating, stopping, turning, none of these things happens as quickly on in snow or on ice as they do on a dry pavement. Be sure to give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly and carefully. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is easily the best way of regaining traction and to avoiding skidding.
Your brakes can't give you the reassurance in the snow and ice they do in dry conditions, so it's vital you know and understand the braking system your car has. If you've got anti-lock brakes (ABS) for example, and there's a need to slow down quickly, don't be afraid to press down hard on the pedal. It’s normal for the pedal to vibrate when the ABS is activated and doing its job, and you may also see the ABS light come on the dash, so you don’t need to worry.
Making sure you can see could sound like the most incredibly obvious of safety tips for winter driving, but it's far too common to see drivers coming towards you trying to peek through a misted-up windscreen or through a small peephole they've made in the ice or snow. Clear you screen completely before setting off and make sure the inside is properly de-misted. Make sure the snow has been cleared off the roof too. If you don't, and then need to stop sharply, the snow on the roof will fall forwards and could completely obscure your vision.
Perhaps the best of all safety tips for winter driving is to stay home if you possibly can. Even if you are completely happy and skilled at driving in winter conditions, the same can't always be said for everyone else.