It might seem obvious, but a lot of us forget that we need to drive differently in the winter. If it’s dark, or wet, or icy, for example, slowing down buys you time. It gives you time to access situations and, crucially, to react.
Keep more distance
You might have heard the saying ‘only a fool breaks the two-second rule’.
If you haven’t, then it’s simple. It’s a way of measuring the distance between you and the vehicle in front.
You should keep a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front and you can measure this by beginning the above saying (it takes two seconds to say it) when that vehicle passes a fixed point. If you pass it before you finish the saying then you’re two close. Now, in winter, try extending this to four seconds.
Stopping distances in the wet are twice what they are for dry roads and on ice they are 10 times as far.
Set aside more time for your journey
If you can, give yourself more time. This will mean that you can factor in the increased potential for delays, as well as giving yourself a mindset that you’ve got plenty of time and don’t need to rush, again reducing the odds of having an accident.
Be mindful of the extra risks
The difficult thing about winter driving can be the hidden risks. Black ice is one such thing – a road might look fine, but could have a layer of ice across it.
Be particularly careful on tree-lined roads. Think about it – the trees mean that the sun doesn’t get onto the road, so the surface could still be icy even when all around it has thawed out.
Watch out for big puddles in the dark when it’s raining – hit one at speed and it’s all too easy to lose control of your car. And, as much as we all love sunny winter days, low sun at this time of year can blind you when driving. Take extra care.
Make sure you and your car are prepared
Washing your car during the winter might seem a bit of a waste of time, but it’s far from it. Although it might seem a fruitless task in the knowledge that it’ll be dirty again within minutes, salt that is used to keep roads ice-free, although with general dirt, builds up quickly during the winter.
So wash your car regularly, in particular keeping the windows and lights clean – as they can quickly build up a film of grime. Keep your fuel tank topped up in case of delays and diversions and keep an eye on traffic information.
Clear your windows properly before setting off and carry a scraper and de-icer.