Winter driving is something all motorists in Britain will need to do sometimes. Cold weather is mostly just an inconvenience until our cars warm up, but when temperatures approach freezing, it represents a new danger.
The most obvious solution to many driving hazards is to slow down. Whilst speed isn’t the cause of all accidents, the risk of injury or fatality is reduced at lower speeds. A change in the general attitude to driving in the winter can make a huge difference when it comes to safety. The cliché is that drivers in Sweden are a lot better prepared for driving in the snow and ice because it is a more regular and inevitable event than here in the UK.
Here are 3 rules that could make the difference next time you are driving in freezing weather.
Ready: Check your tyres and antifreeze and make sure you have a spare tyre and first aid kit
React: observe the actions of cars ahead in traffic and be ready to slow down early
Reduce Speed: Drive slowly in icy conditions and use a higher gear than normal to reduce wheel spin. Although the main Motorways and A roads and B roads will have been gritted, residential streets and driveways will be perilous to drive on in snowy conditions. ABS brakes are excellent at reducing skidding in normal conditions, but any car or object travelling at a reasonable speed will skid on the snow and ice.
Earlier we mentioned Sweden, whose winters are colder and more prone to snow than Britain. Russia and Canada can get even colder, so snow chains are a regular fixture in such climates. The idea is to wrap your tyres in a chain mesh, which provides more traction. This isn’t so prevalent in Britain where it isn’t unusual to have completely snow-free winters.
The alternative to snow chains is tyre socks, which wrap around the tyre and increase the grip on snow. The most expensive solution is special snow tyres, which are made of a different rubber compound; with deeper treads and extra grip sections.
In heavy snowfall the official advice in the UK is to only make essential journeys, but this can be subjective. Is getting to work in the morning an essential journey? Yes! Above all, you need to prepare yourself, adjust your driving style and give an extra 25% of time for your journey. Most accidents in freezing weather in the UK are caused by ill-prepared drivers.