The biggest winter driving hazards and how to avoid them

Winter weather can cause serious hazards but it is possible to avoid them.

It is no secret that driving in the UK is far more difficult during the winter months as the weather can create a range of hazards that can slow you down, delay your journey, or worse, get you caught in an accident.

As there are likely to be times when you will not be able to avoid travelling, regardless of the weather, it is important to be aware of how to avoid the worst.

Read on to find out a little more about the hazards you might encounter and how to stop them from happening.

Aquaplaning

Although wet weather is characteristic of Britain, it tends to be even worse during winter and this can cause all manner of issues. On days where there is heavy rain, in particular, you could be in danger of aquaplaning.

If you drive too fast over surface water then you will find your tyres cannot hold on to the road anymore and your car will begin floating instead, leaving you unable to control the vehicle.

This can be avoided in advance by ensuring your tyre pressure and tread depth are correct. As a minimum, try to keep your tread at a minimum of three millimetres. This should ensure your tyres can grip the road for longer.

Once you are on the road, avoid driving too fast to lessen the chances of aquaplaning and slow down when you see a puddle coming up.

If you find yourself aquaplaning, ease off your accelerator and brake a little to allow your tyres to make contact with the road again.

Not being able to start

When it is particularly cold, you may find yourself struggling to start your vehicle as the extra strain may cause your battery to give out.

To avoid this problem, park your car in your garage if you have the space to do so to stop the vehicle from getting too cold.

If you are not able to do this then try to minimise the amount of power needed from your battery. For example, ensure your radio, wipers, air conditioning and lights are off until you get your vehicle started.

Now is a good time of year, too, to consider how old your battery is and how much power it has left. The majority of car batteries tend not to last longer than five years so, if yours is nearing this age, it is worth changing it now before it runs out.

Sliding on the ice

Ice is often a cause for concern for road users and, according to the Department for Transport, there were 5,000 collisions last year as a result of vehicles sliding.

One of the most effective ways to avoid sliding is to switch your tyres for winter tyres. However some may consider this process to be too expensive so putting snow socks on their tyres may present a much cheaper alternative.

Failing this, ensure that your tyre pressure is correct and you have a minimum tread depth of three millimetres, as to avoid aquaplaning, to retain traction for as long as possible.

Drive slower than usual, due to the fact that the speed limit may be too high for icy conditions, and in as high a gear as possible to avoid sliding. Remember that your stopping distance will be much longer too so leave plenty of space.

Black ice can often be problematic in winter so it is worth applying these rules even when you cannot see ice on the road.

Getting stuck in the snow

If you live in rural areas or tend not to travel on main road you are more likely to get stuck in the snow should there be blizzards this winter.

Try to reduce the risk of this by putting winter tyres on your car or snow chains if the snow is particularly heavy and the road is completely covered with a layer of it. Stay on busy roads as these are more likely to have been treated with grit or salt.

If you do find yourself stuck in the snow, do not rev your engine as this will get you even more stuck. Instead, move your vehicle back and forth in as high a gear as possible. Failing that, you will need to shovel the snow out of the way.

 
  • On: 17 December 2013
  • By: CarShop

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