We’re in the middle of winter and temperatures are beginning to dip. This means that the likelihood of snow is increasing. Although we tend not to get any major snowfall in the UK, even the smallest amount can wreak havoc on our roads. You may not be able to do anything about the delays caused by snow, but if you know how to drive in it then you may be able to save yourself from being stranded.
Driving in any severe weather can pose challenges, and snow is no exception. The best advice when conditions are bad out there, is not to drive at all. However, if you need to drive then follow this advice to ensure that you’re as prepared as possible. You will also learn what to do if you’re caught out by the bad weather.
Allow extra time for all journeys in severe weather conditions. Not only will you likely have to de-ice your car, but your journey will probably take longer as well. Plan your journeys around major roads which are more likely to be cleared of snow and significant ice. Avoid taking your usual shortcuts on minor roads, as you could easily get stranded on such roads.
Wear warm clothes and ensure that you have shoes that are comfortable to drive in. A good winter driving outfit will include a warm winter coat, scarf, gloves, hat and warm clothes underneath. Ensure that you have some waterproof clothing with you as well, as well as some sturdy footwear that will allow you to make your way through any snow on foot if need be. You don’t have to wear all these items but keep them in the car.
Take the following equipment with you in case you get stranded:
- Fully charged mobile phone and charger
- Personal medication
- First aid kit
- Sat nav or printed directions to your destination
- Breakdown emergency contact information
- Blanket, rug or a sleeping bag
- Ice scraper and de-icer
- Torch and spare batteries
- Snacks – chocolate or cereal bars are popular
- A flask of hot drink
It’s also a good idea to take some old bits of carpet of cat litter with you to put underneath your tyres in case you get stuck in snow and need some traction.
Prepare your car
If you have the money, consider buying some winter tyres which will offer extra grip if you live in an area that gets snow regularly. There are plenty of tyre garages out there that offer winter tyres and fitting, and now there are even mobile tyre fitting services as well.
If you decide to stick with your normal tyres, then to increase your chances make sure that you have at least 3mm of tread left on them, and that they are inflated to the correct pressure.
If you don’t drive much during the colder months then invest in a trickle charger to keep your battery as fully charged as possible, as the cold weather requires batteries to work a lot harder. When starting your car during winter, depress the clutch in order to reduce drag on the engine and preserve the power in the battery.
Ensure that your antifreeze is at the correct concentration to prevent it from freezing, and make sure your car’s screenwash its fully topped up. It’s also a good idea to fill your car up whenever you get to half a tank, as that way you will always have enough fuel for a longer than anticipated journey, or to keep the car running to warm up if you’re stranded. If you do get stuck, make sure the exhaust is clear before running the engine to prevent the fumes from entering the car.