January 17, 2013

Driving in Snow and Ice

Following on from a not-so-white Christmas, winter has finally settled in firmly, covering the majority of the UK in a blanket of snow and frost. Whilst this may be attractive to look at, it can only mean bad news for motorists. Here are some valuable tips to ensure safe and trouble-free driving in these extreme weather conditions;

– Clear your car of all frost and snow- Whilst this may sound obvious, many accidents are caused by obscured vision from rooftop snow sliding on to the windscreen, as well as car trouble caused by snow melting around the engine. Also ensure that your vision is not impaired by excessive condensation. Remember, it is illegal to drive with obscured vision.
– Ensure your electrics are working- Be economical with your electric usage: Don’t use non-essential electric loads like wipers and heaters more than are absolutely necessary. Ensure that your battery is fully charged before long trips, and if your battery is reaching the end of its estimated 5-year life, consider a new one before your current battery leaves you stranded.
– Keep plenty of windscreen washer fluid and Anti-freeze handy- Keep an ear out for a high-pitched squealing noise, as this could be a sign that the water pump is frozen. Stop the car immediately for up to half an hour to allow the engine to thaw out. Always carry a bottle of anti-freeze in the car with you, but never mix two types as this can cause more damage than good. Keep a 50/50 mix of Anti-freeze and water in the cooling system; this will give optimum protection down to -34º. Remember, a bottle of anti-freeze might only cost a couple of pounds, but having a frozen and cracked engine repaired could cost hundreds.
– Allow extra time for journeys- Accept that your journey will take longer in extreme weather conditions. Set out a third of the usual travel time earlier, drive at a reasonable speed, and ensure safety is your priority. Try and stay to major roads that are much more likely to have been cleared of snow and gritted, and remember that being late for work is better than having an accident.

Driving tips in snow and ice- Remember gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving- Stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow.
– Wear sensible shoes with good grip to drive in.
– Pull away in 2nd gear, easing the clutch out gently, and avoiding wheel-spin.
– When driving up-hill, leave plenty of room from the car in front, so that you can make it all the way up the hill without stopping and starting again.
– Use a low gear when going down-hill and avoid using the brakes if possible.
– If driving an Automatic transmission vehicle, drive in ‘2’ if there is no ‘Winter Mode’ in your car. This limits the gear changes and makes you less reliant on the brakes, which can cause a skid.

Most importantly, just remember to drive safely and sensibly throughout these extreme conditions- and remember, spring will be here soon!

Safe driving from Britannia!

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