Unfortunately summer is well and truly over and Winter is well and truly on the way. Over the last few years we (the UK) have experienced some severe weather issues and this has caused a plethora of issues for road users. In order to help our CarLease UK customers , and others, we have produced a simple step-by-step guide to Winter Driving.
Planning makes perfect
When the weather is severe, make sure you drive no more than absolutely necessary. We receive many customer calls relating to unnecessary accidents in poor weather e.g. shopping or visiting friends. If you do decide to go out, make sure you do plan a particular journey, ensuring you review local and national weather reports to receive updates; if the computer says no, don’t risk it. (Not try the met office to get your report www.metoffice.gov.uk or BBC Weather).
Additionally (and this might sound like an old wives tale), make sure your car, or van, is well-stocked with warm clothing, food, boots, torch, snow shovel and/or spade and a “High-Vis” jacket. This does sound a little over-the-top but who wants to be clambering the M6 motorway embankment in their finest business attire? Further, if the weather is particularly cold, ensure you have a windscreen scraper and de-icer. These tools are all simple but necessary and they don’t take up much room either.
Across Europe you will find that road safety standards are generally stricter compared to the UK. So if you are travelling abroad, some of these items will be essentially anyway.
Drive within your limits
Do you really want to put yourself at risk for the sake of 10 minutes? Driving in low visibility, wet or icy conditions means that drivers have to make certain adjustments. Unfortunately those that do not endanger themselves and the road-users around them.
If visibility is poor, used your dipped headlight, reduce your speed, clear your windscreen and, above all, concentrate.
When the roads become icy or slushy, it can take almost 10 times longer to stop. So do ensure you leave extra room between you and the next vehicle. When accelerating use a higher gear to avoid spinning your wheels and also move the vehicle more gently; harsh movements do not compliment icy roads.
Even in wet weather, vehicle control can be more difficult. This is because tyres have far less grip on the road and so braking times can be double those of a dry road. In extreme cases, steering may be unresponsive, as water can prevent tyres from gripping the road; ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
If a road is completely flooded, do try and find another route, as you do not want to flood your engine. Where the water is shallow, drive slowly in first gear and, after exiting, test your brakes before returning to normal speed.
Love thy cars and vans
It shouldn’t take the weather to influence you to look after your vehicle; this should be done anyway. Where customers fail to look after their vehicles, they risk voiding their manufacturer warranty, for example not maintaining oil and water levels.
In winter time, a couple of basics need to be monitored:
- Ensure your battery is fully-charged;
- Add Anti-freeze to the radiator in winter and winter additives to the windscreen washer;
- Ensure wipers and lights are in good order;
- Check tyre depths and pressures; and
- Ensure water and oil levels are correct.
The Highways Agency is responsible for the motorways and trunk roads in England. During winter, they will attempt to reduce accidents and delays by pre-treating trunk roads and motorways to prevent the formation of ice or snow. In contrast, Local Authorities are responsible for the like on the local road network.
When the now arrives, salting vehicles will be despatched, travelling at speeds of 40mph spreading salt across the carriageway. As everyone should know, keep your distance to preserve your paintwork!
Take care over Winter from the CarLease UK team.