Winter is a tough time to be hitting the roads, which means you’ll need to be more prepared than ever
According to figures from the MET Office, 1.56 million drivers have suffered at least one accident in the last 5 years due to winter road conditions. What’s more, the total estimated annual cost of winter road accidents is a huge £425,465,373.
We all know driving in winter can be difficult, but sadly commitments like work and appointments don’t just go away because the weather’s bad. We often find ourselves in situations where we need to drive despite poor conditions, and when this occurs you need to know how to stay as safe as possible.
That’s why we’ve put together this winter driving checklist to help you take care on the roads this season.
Check your car regularly
The problem with using your car during the winter months is that any slight issue can become a major problem. From a flimsy windscreen wiper to worn brake pads, there can be many faults that are more hazardous when the weather deteriorates. Keeping a close eye on these details and even investing in a winter health check at your local garage can give you peace of mind and avoid any delays or breakdowns that so often occur between December and March.
Figures from the RAC reveal that 16% of motorists check their oil level, at best, every six months. A similar number (17%) only check their coolant level once every six months too. Make sure your vehicle is one of the ones that’s well topped-up before driving this winter.
Keep all the necessary equipment on-hand
Nobody wants an accident or breakdown to occur, but the reality is that these situations are much more common in winter. So it’s important that you prepare for the worst, stocking up on all the equipment you’ll need no matter what the weather throws at you. Make sure you have warm clothes, a blanket, a spade, a scraper, de-icer and a first aid kit close by.
You also shouldn’t underestimate the power of the winter sun. Make sure you have sunglasses on-hand to put on when the sun is particularly low in the sky.
Look after your tyres
The RAC states that almost 1 in 5 drivers (17%) only check the condition and tread of their tyres once every six months or less, and 13% check the pressures less than once every six months. This is worrying, as the quality of your tyres can have a direct impact on the quality of your driving during the winter. Checking your tyre pressure will let you know whether your car is up to the journey. You can also invest in winter tyres, which will give you a much firmer grip on an icy road.
Don’t forget the battery
Your car battery is far more likely to die in winter, so be sure to get it checked out now before an issue occurs. This is especially true if your battery is more than 5 years old. Remember, that you will be putting more load on your battery in the winter due to more frequent use of headlights and heating systems.
Even if there are no specific issues with your car battery, it may be worth switching out an older model pre-emptively to give you peace of mind this winter.
Leave with plenty of time
We’ve all been caught out when running late by having to wait for the car to defrost. As consequence, we may drive a little faster than usual to avoid being late for work or our appointment. This can put you at even greater risk of an accident, so make sure you leave yourself at least an extra 10 minutes to move cautiously on your journey. Slow down with plenty of time before bends and corners, and be sure to start braking early if the roads are particularly icy or wet.
Listen out for updates
Weather, traffic and road updates are your best friends when driving in the winter. Get into the habit of checking for news before you leave the house to see whether you’re likely to come up against any major hurdles on your journey. If it looks like it’s going to be too risky, it may be worth staying at home.