Essential Advice for Driving in Cold Weather

Well we can certainly tell it is now winter; the cold weather has come all of a sudden, after the unseasonal warmer days of late autumn and early December. Unfortunately the drop in temperature brings with it some negative aspects when it comes to driving. Have you been caught out and late for work with the extra time needed to scrape ice from the car windows in the mornings? The cold weather means extra preparation, especially when it comes to driving, whether you drive a large vehicle, van or car, so here’s a bit of advice for driving in cold conditions.

Most importantly, you want to keep safe and avoid any driving accidents or breakdowns. Did you know the amount of breakdowns nearly doubles when the weather is cold! Before setting off, make sure you have planned your route, and allow extra time, taking into account any areas with snow, ensuring you take the route most likely to have been cleared and gritted. Always pack items to keep you warm and safe in case of breakdown, such as blankets, first aid kit, food and drink, and mobile phone. It’s also worth letting someone know where you’re going, what time you expect to arrive, and which route you will be taking.

When you start the car, allow time for the windows to clear fully; you do not want to drive off with only a small patch of windscreen to see through, and this small patch might soon freeze over once you start moving. Always scrape ice from all windows, and de-mist until clear. And beware – you could be fined if your vision is obscured! As well as the obvious signs on the windscreen, which might limit visibility, look out for chips, scratches and smears, which often show up in the glare of the low winter sun, which can catch you out and mean you are unable to see the road ahead.

You will notice that your car gets much dirtier during the winter. Make sure your windscreen washer fluid has some anti-freeze, and that your wipers are in good working order. You might also have to clean your lights and number plate more frequently, and could get fined if the plate is not legible.

Check your tyres – the AA recommends tyre treads of no less than 2mm for winter driving. And if driving in ice or snow, remember that stopping distances are ten times longer; always use gentle manoeuvres, using a low gear to travel downhill, and avoiding having to stop if driving uphill.

So long as you think about your journey and the weather conditions, and drive accordingly, winter can be a wonderful time to get out and about. You might even like to think about hiring a vehicle from St. Albans Car and Van Hire, as we ensure all our vehicles are in tip-top condition for winter driving. 

Posted on January 25th 2015

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