Tips for Driving in Hazardous Conditions this Winter

Winter driving conditions can pose a challenge for even the most experienced of drivers, which is why it pays to know how to stay safe.

From checking your vehicle to having safety equipment, there are numerous ways that you can look after both you and your car this winter.

Regardless of whether you’re using your own vehicle or are renting one, we’ve detailed a list of essential winter driving tips, designed to make your time out on the road as hazard-free and as hassle-free as possible.

Plan ahead

Check weather forecasts and road conditions before setting off on your journey and question if you really need to travel if extreme weather warnings are in place, this is especially important for long trips.

Check your lights and fluids

Ensure that your headlights, sidelights and any other lighting are clean of any mud or ice and that they are in full working condition before starting your journey.

Also check your fluids, such as oil, anti-freeze and windscreen wash. In the case of the latter, ensure it is mixed at the right concentration, or it may freeze when you need to use it.

Ensure good visibility

Guarantee visibility is at its maximum by filling up your screen wash, by cleaning or de-icing windows and by making sure your window wipers are working.

Drive according to the conditions

In snow or icy conditions, as well as heavy rain, reduce your speed and avoid harsh braking, as this can lead to sliding and potentially losing control of your vehicle.

Be particularly careful on any inclines and constantly check your brakes. Avoid using cruise control when driving on any slippery surfaces.

Charge your mobile device

Should something go wrong, you’ll likely need your mobile phone to call for help. Ensure your device is fully charged prior to travelling.

Consider winter tyres

If you live in a highland area or one that is prone to snow, you may want to fit winter tyres and even snow chains to your vehicle.

Most rental vehicles are already fitted with such tyres, and in some countries, winter tyres are even a legal requirement.

Check that the tyres are inflated properly and ensure that they have enough tread depth to provide grip.

Don’t rush

Give yourself extra time when travelling to ensure you are never rushing anywhere. This frees up time should you need to de-ice your vehicle or make any checks before leaving.

Pack essential supplies

If you’re embarking on a long journey, ensure you have adequate food and water, as well as blankets, extra clothing and a first aid kit.

Other emergency equipment such as a hazard warning triangle, torches and de-icing equipment may be included as part of a rental, although you should check with the car hire firm.

Any items that are legally required in the country of hire should be included as standard.

Have emergency contacts

Know the emergency contact numbers for all of the essential services and know what to do if you become stranded or have an emergency.

Check your insurance cover

Ensure you have adequate insurance cover in place before setting off on your journey. You can cover your personal motor excess or hire car excess with a Questor Insurance reimbursement policy.

Driving in the snow

Snow can provide some of the toughest driving conditions and you should be especially careful when out on the roads. If you can, avoid travel in such conditions.  If you do need to make a journey, take the following into consideration:

  1. Keep your speed down as stopping distances can be ten times the regular distance when the roads are snowy and slippery.
  2. Leave a good distance between your vehicle and any in front of you too, just in case you do need to stop suddenly for any reason.
  3. Avoid travelling at the signposted speed limits, as they apply when road conditions are clear and are not suited to snow and ice.
  4. Look to accelerate slowly and do not brake too heavily, while you should avoid using too much power on hills as it will likely lead to wheel spin.
  5. Clear any snow and mud from the exhaust pipe prior to travelling too – this is essential as it prevents potentially fatal gases from being leaked inside the car.
  6. You should also look to prevent the build-up of snow on your vehicle by regularly brushing the windows, roof, wheel arches, bonnet, number plates and lights.
  7. While using the car heater is recommended to keep you warm while the vehicle is in motion, you should also ensure the car is well ventilated to avoid becoming drowsy on long journeys.
  8. Should your car get stuck in snow, avoid revving your engine as this will likely worsen the problem. Try to slowly rock your vehicle backwards and forward to free it or push it if possible.  If you cannot free your vehicle, stay with it and call the emergency services or breakdown services for assistance.

For more travel tips follow us on Twitter at @QuestorIns or take a lot at our blog section. 

Date Created: 15 January 2019