How to Drive in Icy Weather and Snow

A rushed post this morning as a new wave of snow has covered most of West Sussex! Whilst surfing the net we found this article on the BBC website.

After having spent years building up your precious No Claims Discount it would be foolish to increase your UK car insurance premiums by driving around in dangerous conditions. If however your journey is literally unavoidable and you simply must travel then below are some tips and advice on how to be as safe as possible:

Before leaving home or setting out on your journey
Tyres: Ensure your tyres are inflated correctly and that you have a minimum of 3mm of tread on your tyres to cope with wet and slippery conditions.

Battery: In winter, the battery will run down quicker than in warmer weather. Make sure you do a regular long journey to top it up or trickle-charge the battery.

Engine: Modern engines are more robust than older ones. All the same, depress the clutch when starting as this will reduce drag on the engine when starting, and preserve the battery.

Screenwash: Keep this topped up and use a proper additive at the right concentration to prevent it freezing. 

Fuel: Keep your tank topped up – that way if you are caught out, you’ll have enough fuel to make it home or run the engine to keep warm. However, it’s essential to keep snow from blocking the exhaust as noxious fumes can leak into the vehicle.

Windows: Clear all snow and ice from the windscreen before driving. Do not use water to de-ice windscreens. Hot water can crack the glass, and the water will only freeze again on the screen or on the ground where you are standing.

Locks: A squirt of WD-40 will prevent your door locks freezing up.

Warm clothing: Your car may be as warm as toast on the inside but if you have to step outside, you could be in trouble if you have not got any warm clothing with you.

Always pack the following: warm coat, hat, gloves, sturdy boots, a blanket to keep you warm if you get stuck. Take some food, chocolate, biscuits, water and a hot drink if you can. Always carry a fully charged mobile, and some old bits of carpet, or cat litter, to put under the tyres when stuck and a shovel to clear snow.

DRIVING IN SNOW AND ICE
This is what the Institute of Advanced Motorists recommends.

When driving in snow, get your speed right – not too fast so that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when you need it – and brake, steer and accelerate as smoothly as possible.

Start gently from stationary, avoiding high revs. If you get yourself into a skid the main thing to remember is to take your foot off the pedals and steer.

Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.

Double or even triple your normal stopping distance from the vehicle in front. Drive so that you do not rely on your brakes to be able to stop – on an icy surface they simply may not do that for you!

If your vehicle has ABS in very slippery conditions it will not give you the same control it would in others. Do not rely on it. 

Advice for driving in snow and ice
Plan your journey around busier roads as they are more likely to have been gritted. Avoid using shortcuts on minor roads – they are less likely to be cleared or treated with salt, especially country lanes.

On motorways stay in the clearest lane where possible, away from slush and ice. Keep within the clear tyre tracks if you can.

Stay in a higher gear for better control, and if it is slippery, in a manual car move off in a higher gear, rather than just using first.

On a downhill slope get your speed low before you start the descent, and do not let it build up – it is much easier to keep it low than to try to slow down once things get slippery

In falling snow use dipped headlights or foglights to make yourself visible to others (especially pedestrians) – but as conditions improve make sure your foglights are only on if necessary as they can dazzle other drivers

If you are following another vehicle at night, using their lights to see ahead can cause you to drive dangerously close – keep well back from other traffic.

What to do if you get stuck in the snow
First of all, make sure you have packed your emergency snow kit. This should include warm clothing, some food, water and a mobile phone. 

If you are trapped in your car, you can stay warm by running the engine. However, it is vital that the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow. If the engine fumes cannot escape, you could be overwhelmed by carbon monoxide gas, which is highly toxic.

If there is any risk the fumes can come into the car, do not run the engine. Even if it is safe, do not run the engine for more than 10 or 15 minutes in each hour.

Stay in or close to your car. In heavy snow it is easy to get disorientated and lost or separated from your vehicle. If necessary you can always hang a piece of brightly coloured cloth on your car to let others know you are there.

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Hi My name is Andrew and my area of expertise is car insurance. I have many years experience within the industry and have built up a considerable amount of knowledge.

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Posted in Breakdown Insurance, Car Insurance, Car Safety, General Car, New Drivers, Safe Driving, Young Drivers

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