Despite a mild – if somewhat foggy – start to November, winter will soon be upon us, and some weather reports are suggesting snow on the horizon.
Weather conditions can be a significant factor in why some road traffic collisions happen. This winter, as a car user, ask yourself whether your journey is necessary or, for short journeys, whether you need to use the car at all.
If you absolutely need to drive your car on winter days, check first that you are able to drive. Do not get behind the wheel if you have consumed any alcohol or have taken any medication that could impede your control of the vehicle.
Checking Your Car Before Setting Off
If you are okay to drive then plan your route carefully and allow plenty of time for the journey.
It’s important to check whether your car is safe to drive before setting off. You should check the following:
- Tyre tread – although the legal limit is 1.6mm, the AA recommends changing tyres when the tread depth reaches 3mm
- Screen wash – use a winter mix so that the screen wash doesn’t freeze in the washers
- Oil – you should always check your car’s oil levels regularly and, in winter, check that the oil your car uses is suitable for winter use
- Lights – make sure that all lights are working and that lenses are clean
Although it’s a year-round problem, distracted drivers are a serious risk to other road users in winter. As drivers who use mobile phones are more likely to crash, you should put your device completely out of reach before you set off so that you are not tempted to use it when driving.
For long journeys or journeys in remote areas, you should always be prepared in case you get into trouble. Have access to a recovery service, make sure your spare tyre is in good condition and that you have a warning triangle, a first aid kit, screen-clearing equipment and a key for tyre locking nuts. You may also want to carry a blanket and a snack bar should you need to wait for a recovery vehicle to arrive.
Other Winter Driving Tips
Once you start out on your journey be prepared for driving rain, fog, and slippery road conditions caused by snow, sleet or ice.
The key areas to beware of are:
- Stopping distances – maintain your braking distance from the vehicle ahead and allow a greater distance in slippery conditions
- Speed – drive at an appropriate speed for the road conditions, which may be less than the speed limit
- Distractions – keep the stereo sound at a level that it doesn’t distract you from driving
- Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre – always check your mirrors before you indicate and make a move
When you come to the end of your journey, park your car in a safe place where it will not be an obstruction to other road users.
Finally, only drive a vehicle in a roadworthy condition with insurance. If you are involved in a crash then have something to write on to exchange details with the other party.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for people injured in road traffic accidents through no fault of their own. Call freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we'll be happy to help you.