Stay safe on the roads this winter
Did you know that you are 79% more likely to be in a road accident in late January than at any other time of the year?
Winter can be a perilous time for drivers as poor weather conditions make it much harder to navigate our roads. But with a bit of careful planning and sensible behaviour, you can avoid becoming yet another grim statistic. Here are some basic precautions to make sure you get from A to B just fine.
Avoid unnecessary risks
Firstly, ask yourself: do you need to drive? You should avoid dangerous roads unless travel is absolutely essential. If you do need to venture out, only use roads that have been well gritted and cleared. Drive slowly—if in doubt, knock ten kilometres per hour off your usual speed. Set off early and give yourself plenty of time, always keeping a good distance between you and the car in front (at least 4 seconds between their boot and your bumper). If anyone tailgates you, pull over and let them steam ahead.
Get your car ready for the road
Make sure your vehicle is fit for the road and has passed all safety checks. Before you set off, check that windscreen washer is topped up with fluid appropriate for cold weather and clear any snow, ice or mist from all your windows (not just your front windscreen). Make sure you have a full tank of fuel and fuel reserve in your car (as well as a spare wheel).
If you're travelling in wintery conditions such as ice and snow or coming into contact with extremely cold temperatures, consider fitting your car with specialist winter tires before you take to the roads. While all-weather tires can cope with some tricky conditions, when faced with black ice, slush, heavy snowfall and other forms of unpredictable weather, winter tires are the best choice to help you stay on track. Specially-designed tread rubber means they stay flexible, helping your car grip the road despite the conditions, while deeper tread depths and biting edges provide better traction on ice and snow.
It might also be a good idea to pack a survival kit in your car, just in case. This should include warm outdoor clothes, a reflective jacket, a flask of tea, a torch, spade and a fully-charged mobile phone in case you get stranded. And don't forget about making sure you're covered by insurance, which could turn out to be a lifesaver if your car lets you down during your journey—it's always better to be safe than sorry.
Stay safe out there
Finally, there are key steps you can take to drive safely, even in the worst weather conditions. Turn on your headlights in any poor visibility and give yourself plenty of time to stop, as braking can be ten times longer on slippery roads. You might even want to change lanes to give yourself more space. And gears can be your best friend in bad weather—but only when used smartly. Low gears will help you maintain traction on hills and restrain speed on downhill sections so you don't need to brake as much.