Cold weather can often catch drivers off guard. We all know to put on an extra layer of clothing, dig out the warm winter coat from the cupboard, and choose our favourite hat, gloves and scarf combo. But when it comes to our cars, we often assume that they will be fine.
But when the weather drops and ice covers the roads, being unprepared can lead to an accident. Even a little bump can leave you shaken and with an expensive insurance related headache. Bigger bumps don’t bear thinking about.
Do you know how to drive safely on icy roads? Here are our top tips to prepare you for the cold weather driving season.
The ice on the road will affect two things more than anything else – your tyre’s grip on the road and the braking distance. Ice on the roads means the tyre tread will not have as strong a hold on the tarmac as normal. Less hold means that, when you press on the brake pedal, your tyres will take longer to work to slow you down. What you can do to help is to give yourself more time by driving slowly.
Not only will you have more time to react to changes in the road ahead, but you will also be less likely to slam your foot on the brakes.
You cannot discern what other drivers will do. Even in the worst conditions possible, there will be drivers on the road who will be reckless. So you need to ensure that when you encounter other drivers, be it on a dual carriageway or coming towards you, you ensure that they have plenty of space. If they brake sharply, then they will need room to come to a stop. Giving them that space will put less pressure on them and mean they are less likely to make a panicked decision that takes them out of control.
But if they do make a mistake and lose control, giving them more space gives you room to manoeuvre out of their way and avoid an impact. So keep your distance.
If you lose grip on the road and your car starts to spin, here’s what you need to do – steer into the direction of the skid. So if the back of your car is drifting to the left, steer to the left. And vice versa if you are going in the opposite direction. This will hopefully straighten your car out so you will be able to get back under control more quickly.
Once the car has stopped spinning and if it is safe to do so, give yourself a moment to regain your composure. A spin can leave you in a bit of a panic, so having a moment to catch your breath and calm yourself will do you a world of good.
An obvious one, but icy conditions are dangerous conditions. No matter how careful you are, you never know just how slick the roads might be. You also can’t count for the driving of other people. If you can avoid going out when the roads are covered in ice, then it’s the safest way to do things.