It has snowed in the UK every year since 2000 but, as a nation, we are renowned for failing to properly prepare for inclement winter weather such as ice, fog, snow and heavy rain. This leaves us at risk of accidents, endangering both ourselves and other road users.
Before you get behind the wheel this winter, consider that:
- 48% of winter accidents are a result of skidding – prevent this by accelerating gently, using low revs. If your car does skid, steer into it. Do not brake sharply as this will intensify the skid
- 50% of people think drivers drive too fast in the winter – slow down! Set off earlier and take your time in inclement conditions. This will keep you and your passengers safe
- 91% of drivers underestimate stopping distances in winter – remember to leave extra car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you to allow you to slow down safely. A distance of 10 car lengths is advised in snow and ice
What to carry in your car
There are a number of essentials we’d recommend you stock your car with before you set off on a long journey this winter.
Get ahead of the weather and make sure you stay safe on the roads with our checklist:
- Mobile phone and charger – to call a breakdown service or the emergency services if required
- Hi-vis clothing – will ensure other vehicles and road users can see you
- De-icer and scraper – to remove ice quickly and safely from your windows and windscreen
- Screen wash – to top up your levels should they drop whilst you’re out
- Torch – to help you see should you breakdown
- Shovel – to get your wheels moving should you get stuck in a snow drift
- Snow chains – fit to your tyres to improve your traction in snow and ice
- Hazard warning triangle – to alert other drivers to your position on the road and also let the breakdown service find you quickly and easily
- Tow rope – an essential should you or another road user break down and need to be towed home or to a garage
- First aid kit – for any minor injuries
- Warm clothes – to keep you warm and dry should you have to wait for a breakdown service
- Wellington boots – to keep your feet dry and improve your grip in snow and ice
- Food and water – to keep you sustained and hydrated should you have to wait for a breakdown service
These key items will keep you warm and safe should you break down this winter. They’ll also make the wait for a breakdown service more comfortable!
Preparing your car for a journey
Before you head out in your car this winter, make sure you leave yourself extra time to:
- Clear your windscreen, windows and wing mirrors of snow, ice and condensation. Don’t set off if your visibility is impaired – those 5 minutes spent clearing the ice could prevent an accident
- Remove any snow from your roof, ideally using a soft brush to avoid damaging your paintwork. This will ensure a safe drive – melting snow can fall from your roof onto your windscreen, dangerously obstructing your vision
If those extra five minutes in bed are too much to give up on an icy morning, consider covering your car and windscreen the night before. This will prevent ice forming, making your morning routine a cinch!
Also remember, never use hot water to de-ice you car. As tempting as the speed may seem when you’re shivering with the scraper, this can crack or shatter your windscreen, resulting in a costly repair.
Checking your essentials
Before you embark on a long journey in the winter months, ensure you check your:
- Tyre treads and pressures
- Windscreen wipers
Prepare your car properly before the worst of the weather hits and enjoy a safe journey this winter.