Driving in a winter wonderland

Driving in a winter wonderland

We’re heading into the depths of winter and the hazardous conditions this can bring on the roads. Fog, heavy rain and if temperatures dip suddenly, ice and snow, which bring all kinds of additional hazards for new and experienced drivers alike.

The key to having a safe winter is to be prepared, by making sure you and your car are ready for the cold spell.  You never know, it could look a lot like Christmas sooner than you think!  

So before getting in the car and cruising along to some of the winter classics, take some time to make sure you are ready whatever the weather.

  • The first super simple check is to make sure that you are topped up! This means making sure you have enough petrol. Not just the minimum to get home, but an amount that will cover you if you have to take the long road home and several detours along the way. The other basics that need to be kept topped up are oil, water and screenwash levels. It’s also worth adding some anti-freeze to the water and screenwash if they need it.
  • Lights, Camera, action! The next check is your lights, both internal and external ones. Make sure all your bulbs are working and that you replace any which may have blown. You might also want to give your outside ones a quick clean so that they are not disguised under grime and dirt.
  • Get to grips with your tyres... have a check that your tyres have enough grip, inflated to the required amount and don’t look damaged. You may want to consider getting some winter tyres too.
  • Have a look under the hood! Make sure your battery is performing well - clean, fully charged and free from erosion.
  • Have you checked your wipers? It’s important that your wipers are working well and are going to be able to effectively clear your windscreen of any debris.
  • Plan and pack! No, not glamorous holiday wear and deciding which pool to go to first! I mean picking the easiest and safest route to get to your destination and having a bag packed with essentials in the car. This includes a blanket, map, torch, bottled water and snacks, shovel, boots, an ice scraper and also an old piece of carpet – this will help give the tyres some grip if you are stuck in the snow.
  • Heed the advice given in weather reports and by road safety professionals and stay put rather than risk taking an unnecessary journey. 

If you’ve decided to head out on the road, it’s worth noting our top tips of what to do when you are actually driving!

  • Leave extra distance between you and the car in front. Braking distances are much greater, and visibility potentially much lower than usual when driving in bad conditions.
  • Drive cautiously and maintain a constant speed where possible. Don’t forget the shades, winter sun when it’s low in the sky and bouncing off wet surfaces can creating blinding glare – use your shades and visor.
  • To avoid skidding on ice, start off in second gear and pump the brake gently when you need to slow down.

So whether it’s looking like a winter wonderland out there or it’s raining like cats and dogs, stay prepared and you should have a safe and comfortable journey. 

For more advice about winter driving you can also have a look at the tips given by the government.

Blog by Kevin Kiernan, Head of Motor Underwriting at Ageas