Winter. The time of year when most of us are reluctant to get behind the wheel.
You get up in the dark only to spend extra time preparing your car before driving off in wintry conditions that can add even more delays to your journey. Hassle it might be, but being thoroughly prepared is vital to stay safe and avoid accidents.
So far this winter there have been a number of road traffic accidents on snow and ice. Recently, a car crashed into a Sheffield house after skidding off an icy road. A local Councillor admitted that the road was not included on the gritting route.
It’s car accidents like these that make us concerned about driving in snow and ice. Official Government advice is to check the weather forecast beforehand and not to drive unless your journey is essential. If you do plan to drive in snow and ice, follow sound advice from trusted authorities to stay safe.
Allow at least ten minutes to prepare your car. Use a scraper and de-icer to clear all windows, not just the windscreen. The AA warns against driving off “like a tank commander with a tiny hole cleared in the windscreen.” Ensure the roof is clear from snow and make sure that lights and number plates are clearly visible. You should also make sure that your tyres have the correct tread and air pressures so that they can grip properly on snow and ice.
Having an emergency kit in your car is strongly recommended. Things like food, a flask containing a hot drink and warm clothes and blankets can come in very handy if you break down. Many driving-related websites such as the RAC provide handy checklists of what to include.
When you drive in snow and ice, extra care should be taken even if the roads have been gritted. It may help to set off in second gear to avoid your wheels spinning. Drive slowly and carefully and be very gentle when accelerating and braking. Stopping distances can be up to ten times greater than on dry roads so allow extra distance between you and the driver in front.
One of the common mistakes people make in winter driving is hitting the brakes when their car starts to skid. If this happens to you, steer gently in the direction of the skid. Don’t brake as this will make your wheels lock and your car will skid even more.
With several weeks of the winter still to come, we could yet face more snow and ice on our roads. When driving in snow and ice, proper preparation and care are vital to help you drive safely and help keep others safe too.
Jane Cooper is a senior personal injury solicitor at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Slater and Gordon offer a free consultation for people injured in accidents through no fault of their own. Call us 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we will call you.