Wintery conditions can make driving in winter quite a challenge. Poor weather plus early dark nights and late dark mornings can combine to increase the risk of collisions.
However, maximising the roadworthiness and safety of a vehicle with the weather conditions in mind is a sensible approach to driving in general – and at this time of year in particular.
As tyres are in permanent contact with the road and significantly impact on the grip and the driver’s control of the vehicle for steering, accelerating, and braking, it’s clearly important to get them right.
The deeper the tyre tread the better (a minimum of 3mm is recommended) and it should be even all around the tyre. In the UK, the legal minimum tread for tyres is 1.6mm. In addition, tyres are safer at their recommended pressure, and the wrong pressure can cause them to wear unevenly, so checking the tyre pressures regularly and adding air as required is important.
Topping up windscreen wash and engine coolant – after making sure that the fluids are diluted correctly – is sensible, and it’s worth checking the windscreen wipers and car battery as they tend to be well-used at this time of year. Regular checks on the lights to make sure they are fully functioning is essential as the more a car is visible the better, and it may even be worth considering a winter service.
For winter journeys long or short, wearing warm clothes and keeping a spare blanket, food, and a drink on standby will be invaluable if an unexpected traffic delay or breakdown occurs. It’s also worth keeping a torch, extra socks, boots or wellingtons, de-icer and scraper, a warning triangle and even a small spade in the boot.
Obviously, driving at unnecessary speed, under pressure, and winter weather conditions are unlikely to mix well so allow plenty of time for a journey. In bad weather it’s going to take longer than normal so make sure that windows are clear, lights are clean, and number plates are visible before setting off.
Once driving, keep the car well-ventilated as high heating can cause the driver to become drowsy. This will also help to reduce an irritating build-up of condensation.
Car journeys take place all throughout the year, but in the particular conditions of winter, adequate preparation of the car can help mitigate risk and increase safety on the road.