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Stay Safe This Christmas

10th December 2015

Driving during the festive period presents many challenges and it is no surprise that the number of breakdowns almost doubles when the temperature begins to drop. The weather, busy roads and not using your car as frequently as usual can all have a negative impact upon your winter driving experiences, so to keep you safe whilst driving over the Christmas period, Merityre Specialists have put together a list of tips.


1. Exercise your car

Due to time off work, difficult weather conditions and a general desire to spend more time at home, many cars are not used as much as usual. This can have a detrimental effect on your car as your battery can drain and the cold can make delicate components brittle. To counteract this and avoid potential damage, try to exercise your car with a long drive if you think that you have left it sitting for a while. When using your car after a period of inactivity, you should allow the engine to warm up for around thirty seconds before driving to let the oil to start flowing and this will help to avoid unnecessary wear and tear.


2. Keep an eye on your fuel level

Over the festive period, petrol stations may close earlier than usual or they may take certain days off. Before heading off on a long journey, make sure you have enough fuel to get you there and back safely. Running out of fuel in the middle of a journey would not be a good experience for you or your vehicle!


3. Be prepared

Over winter you may be caught in difficult conditions such as being stuck in heavy traffic, breaking down or having to stop your journey due to bad weather. In preparation for such events, you should carry the following items with you in your vehicle:

  • Warm clothes
  • Blanket
  • Boots
  • Water
  • Torch
  • Phone charger
  • De-icer and scraper
  • Spade or shovel


4. Before setting off

Ice, condensation and snow on the windows of your vehicle can impair your visibility over the colder months, so it is critical that you ensure you can see clearly before setting off in your vehicle. Use your air conditioning to de-mist your windows and windscreen and scape all ice from the exterior windows and mirrors. You should also be aware that snow on the roof of your car could fall down during journeys and block your view, so remove this also before driving.


5. Check the weather

Keep an eye on weather reports and do not make journeys if the forecast looks bad. The weather is unpredictable over winter, so if you do find yourself caught in heavy snow you should find somewhere safe to pull over and stop until it is safe to continue.


6. Get a grip

Winter surfaces could be covered with snow, ice or grit and each of these can have a negative effect on your grip. Black ice is one of the greatest dangers when it comes to winter driving as you won’t know that it is there until you are sliding out of control. Make sure you drive slowly, particularly in rural areas to counteract this and if you do encounter black ice steer gently and do not brake or accelerate sharply

Drive slowly and in a low gear over snow and be particularly cautious if you do not have winter tyres. When it comes to grit, bear in mind that even a small layer of snow can reduce its capabilities, so do not assume that a gritted road will not be slippery. Furthermore, on a thawed road, grit behaves like small stones and can reduce your contact with the road, so you should still take care when driving on grit.


7. Drive cautiously

Over the festive period there will generally be increased traffic on the roads. You should be mindful of this fact when planning journeys, as it is likely that any drive may take longer than anticipated. Allow yourself extra time and if you find that you are running late, do not try to speed to make up lost time and always drive at a safe speed for the weather conditions you are facing.