Winter conditions can present motorists with a considerable challenge. Freezing temperatures, poor visibility, and slippery road conditions cause a high risk of losing control of your vehicle and having an accident.
That's why when snowy weather arrives, it's essential to take proper precautions for yourself and your vehicle. Also, adopting a different approach to your driving style will help you avoid tough situations. Here are some useful tips for safely driving in snow.
Install Winter Tyres
First things first, your tyres. Regularly check the tread for wear and replace them if necessary. In most countries, the legal limit for tread depth on tyres is 1.6 mm. However, consider that safe driving in wet and snowy weather conditions is affected by the tread depth, the pattern design and the rubber compound of the tread of your tyres. On wet or snow-covered roads braking performance will progressively decline with lower tread depths. On wet roads there is an additional risk of aquaplaning with reduced tread depths.
Therefore, check your tyres regularly, reduce your speed on wet and snowy roads and consider replacing your tyres in good time. Checking that you have the correct tyre pressure will also improve your car’s handling and fuel efficiency.
You should also give proper consideration to fitting your vehicle with winter tyres or all-season tyres. They have a dedicated tread pattern for better traction on snow and ice, and they use a unique rubber compound that stays flexible in cold, wet conditions. Tyres certified with a three-peak mountain snowflake symbol on the sidewall are the ones to get.
Before you embark on your journey, study the route ahead and allow enough time to reach your destination. Check local weather reports and traffic updates to anticipate any potential disruptions. Plan your route to favour major roads, since they're much more likely to have been cleared of snow and gritted.
Clear all snow from your car windows, mirrors, lights and the roof before you go; driving with snow on your car is dangerous and potentially a violation of the law. Flurries of snow could fall off your vehicle, for example, and obscure the vision of other drivers.
Top up the windscreen washer reservoir with a strong antifreeze concentration, so it doesn’t freeze on the glass. The inside of the windscreen will need demisting too. It's illegal to drive without full visibility through all the windows on your car.
You'll want to have a full tank of fuel, so take a detour to the nearest petrol station before starting the journey properly.
Keep a decent pair of sunglasses handy, which can reduce the glare of low winter sun on the snow. And keep your mobile phone fully charged, with the number of a breakdown service provider stored so you can immediately call for help.
- To prepare for a potential breakdown on the side of the road, put together an emergency kit of food, drinks, a torch, and extra clothing, and keep it in the boot. It's also handy to store a high-visibility vest, a warning triangle, and a first aid kit.
When you're ready to get behind the wheel, be sure to wear dry, comfortable footwear. Try to avoid bringing snow with you into the car; puddles will collect when it melts and the pedals will get slippery.