During the harsh winter months, driving conditions can become increasingly more difficult and can massively increase the risk of dangers on the road, that could lead to accidents, insurance claims and even losing your license.
For new or learner drivers, this can be a daunting task to tackle the roads during torrential rain, icy conditions or poor visuals from fog and low cloud; the clinging cold can make fog linger which means you’ll really need to be extra vigilant.
This is important, not just for new drivers, but for experienced drivers also, the roads can be dangerous places to be when you’re not implementing all the safety tools during your time on the road. So let’s take a little look at how you can become safer for both yourself and the people around you on the roads.
If you’re learning to drive in bad weather conditions, your driving instructor will be sat next to you guiding you through every step of the way and it’s important to ask your driving instructor the best ways to maintain safety on the road during these difficult times, especially if you’re learning to drive through summer when the conditions are much easier. If you’re brand new to the roads, you may be wanting to make journeys alone but feel concerned to drive without the assistance of anyone.
During bad weather conditions, the one thing that is easily hindered is your vision to see other cars, people and objects around you. If you’re facing thick fog, you may not be able to see that clearly with just your headlights.
Make sure you are using your front and rear fog lights and remember that even if it is during the day, you must still use your lights for visibility, even daylight can be minimised during winter but as soon as the conditions begin to clear or improve, turn your fog lights off immediately and lower your lights so you do not dazzle oncoming drivers.
Of course, staying extra vigilant will help, keeping your radio low or off for extra concentration will help.
Check Your Car
When the weather is poor, your car can suffer and manually checking your car will help avoid any breakdowns or mishaps when you’re out and about.
If you are driving and your car overheats or the tread on your tyres is not at least 3mm, then this could risk skidding in rain. Check your radiator, your tyres, your anti-freeze levels, windscreen washers.
Be sure to have other things at the ready, such as an ice-scraper, de-icer, warm clothing in case your car breaks down and you have to sit inside it to wait for help.
A torch is also preferable and a small first aid kit, just in case you are caught out. Checking your car regularly will greatly decrease your chance of a mishap.
Don’t Drive Wildly
You may want to start speeding up to get to your destination quicker and out of the bad weather but this is never a wise idea and poses more threats than anything else.
You need to avoid any harsh manoeuvres, any harsh braking (make sure you’re driving slower than usual, although not too slowly) and reversing, or parking must be done slower and with more care to ensure you do not slide and see exactly where you’re going.
Drive behind other cars with at least a four-second gap which will allow you to have enough time to brake in case the car in front of you has to brake sharply.
Also if you are driving a little slower, this will allow you to look out for road signs on motorways or any hazards up ahead.
If you are stuck in snow or icy roads, put your car into a high gear and gently move the car back and forth without revving the car, to help you out of the situation; although if this doesn’t help, calmly stop the car and call for assistance and make sure you are visible by keeping your lights on.
During the winter months, we may see a rise in strong winds that can feel very daunting when you’re driving on motorways. Strong winds may feel as if you’re fighting a force against the car, so it’s important to drive slower to avoid drifting across and stay well clear of any motorbikes, bicycles, and high sided vehicles as they are likely to also suffer and may stray towards you in strong winds.
Give them space, or if the situation is not dangerous, overtake them. If you are driving near crosses bridges or open roads, you will find the wind feels stronger around these areas; slow down and stay vigilant.
Keep both hands firmly on the wheel and focus on the road; stay safe, think clearly.