Driving in bad weather
Severe weather can present many challenges for drivers, particularly during the winter months. High winds, heat, fog, snow and ice – driving in adverse weather conditions often require planning ahead of your journey including checking the weather forecast before you set off. If you are looking to stay ahead of the bad weather when driving, our helpful guide has you covered.
Driving in high winds
According to The Highway Code, section 232 states that although high-sided vehicles are the most affected by windy weather, strong gusts of wind can also blow a car off course. This can happen on open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds, or when passing bridges or gaps in hedges.
Section 233 of The Highway Code also states that in extremely windy weather, your vehicle is also at risk of turbulence created by large vehicles. Motorists and motorcyclists are advised to keep well enough space from other vehicles, especially if they are overtaking a high-sided vehicle.
- Always keep your vehicle well-ventilated to avoid heatstroke and exhaustion.
- Be aware that the surface of the road could become soft and may affect your steering and braking.
- If the heat or bright sunlight is obscuring your vision even after you have taken the necessary steps to prevent this from happening, slow down and if necessary, stop.
- Keep bottled water with you to prevent dehydration and drowsiness.
Driving in mist & fog
- Before driving in foggy conditions, you should check your mirrors and then slow down to anticipate the road ahead. Even if the fog seems to be clearing, you can suddenly find yourself in thick fog.
- Always keep a safe distance behind the vehicle in front as rear lights can give a false sense of security.
- Check your mirrors before you slow down, then proceed to use your brakes so that your brake lights can warn drivers behind you that you are slowing down.
- Be able to pull up well within the distance you can see clearly. This is particularly important on motorways and dual carriageways, as vehicles are travelling faster.
- Use your windscreen wipers and demisters.
- Be aware of other drivers that may not be using headlights.
- Avoid accelerating to move away from a vehicle that is too close behind you.
- Remember to turn your lights off when turning off your vehicle as they can drain the battery. If this happens, get your battery checked out as soon as possible.
- During wet weather, stopping distances will be at least double that required for stopping on dry roads as your tyres have less grip on the road.
- Keep a good distance away from the vehicle in front to increase your ability to anticipate the road ahead.
- Ensure your wipers are in use and a good condition as the rain and spray from other vehicles may make it more difficult to see and be seen.
- Avoid flooded areas as driving through standing water can result in expensive engine damage.
- If driving through a flooded area is unavoidable, aim to stick to the highest section of the road. Drive slowly in first gear and remember not to stop. Before driving through the area, ensure that your path is clear.
- Aquaplaning occurs when a thin layer of water covers the roads surface making it difficult for your tyres to retain their grip, causing a loss of traction and control. You should avoid braking and accelerating but instead keep the steering wheel gently pointing in the direction you wish to travel. Avoid steering until your tyres make contact with the road again.
The Highway Code rule 228 advises not to drive in these conditions unless your journey is essential.
Before your journey
- Plan your route in advance with at least two alternative routes in case of a diversion. Aim to use main roads as they are more likely to have been cleared or gritted.
- Allow for extra time to and from your destination.
- Check travel news and bulletins that may provide information about weather, traffic and road conditions ahead.
- Ensure you are wearing the appropriate footwear.
- Prepare an emergency kit that includes de-icer, ice-scraper, warm clothing, torch, boots, shovel, first-aid kit, jump leads and emergency food and drinks should you experience a breakdown.
- Clear all snow and ice from windows to allow for clear visibility.
- Ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible.
- Demist and clear windows and mirrors thoroughly.
- Keep a well enough distance from the vehicle in front of you as stopping distances can be ten times greater than on dry roads.
- Be prepared for the road conditions that may change over relatively short distances.
- Drive extremely carefully when the roads are icy and avoid any sudden actions that could cause a loss of control of your vehicle.
- Drive at a slow speed in as high a gear as possible; accelerate and brake gently.
- Take caution on bends where loss of control is more likely. Aim to slowly brake progressively on the straight before reaching a bend and avoid any sudden actions.
- When travelling on ice, tyres make virtually no noise. Check your grip on a safe surface before heading off, if the steering feels unresponsive, it may indicate ice and that your vehicle is losing its grip on the road.
- Consider purchasing winter tyres as they are designed to perform in difficult winter weather - such as low temperatures, snow, ice and thawing conditions.
If you are planning to head off during bad weather, book in for an interim service at your local Merityre branch to ensure your vehicle is performing as it should. If you require further guidance on driving in bad weather conditions, you can contact our specialist team where our experts will be happy to offer further advice on staying safe.