Before you can say ‘there’s a brass monkey crying out there’, winter will have unfurled its icy coat and with it caused havoc on British roads. While we’re due a relatively mild winter (the last three have been horrendous) there’s no excuse for not taking precautions ahead of the inevitable cold snap. Here is VCARS handy guide to driving in winter which, to help you remember, we’re calling Pick Up STICKS!
Did you know that around a quarter of all drivers fail to slow down in the winter while in heavy traffic? For many, that means an inevitable glide across ice/snow followed the terrible joy-sapping bang and silence of a winter prang. There’s no way of knowing what’s under-tyre when you’re driving on white roads so SLOW DOWN, give yourself a bit more space to brake and avoid having to swap insults/ insurance details in sub-zero conditions with similarly cold/upset motorists.
Making a journey in the summer and making a journey in the winter are two different things. When travelling over the forthcoming months, add another 20% to your usual trip time. That added time will give you a chance to drive in a more controlled manner, allow your engine to heat up and avoid damage, and allow you to fully defrost your windscreen. Yes, you do need to buy some defroster. Driving around facing the low winter sun without a clear windscreen is a sure-fire way to ensure your Christmas goes with an (unwelcome) bang.
Mobile phone technology means there is NO EXCUSE for not knowing what is happening before you set off. As well as simply ensuring you’ve got one ear open for BBC TV Weather reports or going online before you leave – especially on longer journeys – there are plenty of free apps for you to download to your smartphone. The Met Office App is free and a good starter. You might also take a look at the AA App which offers you information on roads that are closed for a host of reasons.
When you’re turning a corner in the winter, clearly, there’s a chance you’ll lose traction. Again, around one in four drivers refuses to slow down going around corners which is fine if you like to see your car sliding into fences, running over garden gnomes or smashing into postboxes quietly minding their own business.
Your car is much more likely to break down in sub-zero temperatures so it’s important that you and your motor are prepared in the event of a problem. You’d be wise to carry an emergency kit. The AA Emergency kit is £29.99 from Amazon and includes: a warning triangle, high visibility vest, first aid kit, 3.5m Tow Rope, foot pump, emergency camera with flash and 12 exposures, notepad & pen, tyre pressure gauge, tyre tread depth gauge and emergency Car Hammer. Seems like a good deal for the price of half a tank for petrol.
If you do become stranded, stay in your car. It’s the safest place for you to be. To keep warm, you can run your engine but make sure the exhaust isn’t blocked with snow. One way to avoid becoming stranded is to keep your fuel tank at least 50% full – this will severely reduce the fuel line in your car becoming frozen.
We can’t guarantee that everything will go perfectly this winter, but following our STICKS guide will certainly reduce the chance of problems. Get prepared!