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Winter Driving Advice
Winter conditions can be difficult on the road, so it is important that you are prepared in order to keep yourself safe. As well as ensuring that your vehicle can cope with winter weather, you should be aware that your own driving style must be adapted for the difficult conditions. Winter weather can be difficult and unpredictable, which is why Merityre Specialists have put together a helpful guide for driving during winter.
Extra time and planning is needed during winter journeys to avoid the potential for breakdowns. When it is likely to be icy on the roads you should plan to use only busy roads that will have been gritted and avoid country lanes which are likely to be slippery.
Before setting off on any journey make sure that you check the weather forecast beforehand. If freezing conditions, heavy fog or snow are predicted it may be safer to avoid unnecessary journeys.
During cold winter conditions, you should allow extra time to prepare your vehicle in the morning. Make sure that you can see out of all windows and mirrors before setting off. You can do this by scraping ice and snow from your windscreen and car roof and using your air conditioning to remove condensation.
Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving in winter as jerky or erratic movements can lead to losing control. This means that you should try to look ahead on the road and be aware of everything ahead of you, this will allow you to prepare your speed and movements in advance. Steering, braking and accelerating should all be done gently in winter conditions.
Get your speed right
It is important that you get your speed right when driving during winter. Whilst it is crucial that you do not drive too fast and remain in control of your vehicle, driving too slowly can lead to a loss of momentum so you need to maintain the right balance. In snow, you should stick to the rule of using high gears and low revs as this will help to reduce wheel slip.
You should be driving slowly enough to give yourself adequate time to think and react to everything on the road. If you find that you are running late, do not try to make the time up. When it comes to winter driving, your safety is a far higher priority than your punctuality.
Keep your distance
Slippery roads mean that braking distances will increase so it is even more important that you keep your distance from the vehicle in front. Braking distances increase because the friction between the road and your tyres is massively reduced in wet, icy or snowy conditions so stopping a car in short distance becomes almost impossible. For this reason, you should leave a gap ten times as large as usual to the car in front.
Hills and slopes
It can be difficult enough driving on straight roads in winter, however, sometimes you may need to tackle more daunting challenges such as hills and slopes.
When it comes to driving uphill, make sure that the road ahead it clear. Do not assume that the car in front will not run in to difficulty and give them plenty of space as having to stop half way up a hill or slope could lead to hazards. Make sure you are in the best gear before beginning your ascent and try to maintain a constant speed.
Driving downhill poses similar threats, so again keep your distance from the car ahead. Get in to a low gear and slow your speed down before descending, as it may be difficult to slow down if you build high momentum and get caught on slippery surfaces.
What to do if you slip
If you do find your vehicle slipping on ice or snow, try not to panic and do as little as possible. Allow the car to pass over the ice whilst keeping the steering when straight or gently steering in to the skid. If you steer in the opposite direction or harshly brake or accelerate, you risk spinning out of control.
It is important that you adjust your driving style for winter weather conditions and for additional safety, you may wish to consider fitting winter tyres to your vehicle.
If you require further guidance when it comes to driving in winter you can contact your local Merityre Specialists where our experts will be happy to offer advice on staying safe whilst driving in cold conditions.
Alternatively, take a look at our guide on driving in summer conditions.