Mark Hall Driving Tips

Driving in the winter can be a lovely experience, so long as you know how to keep yourself and your car safe. Driving in cold conditions brings its own unique set of challenges, so we have created these handy winter driving tips to help you stay safe out there.

Preparation is Key

Make sure your car is ready to face the challenges of winter driving. Start by checking that all your lights and windscreen wiper blades are functioning correctly. Use a good quality screen wash that won’t freeze.

Next, check the oil, coolant and washer fluid levels. Make sure you have some antifreeze in your coolant- nobody wants the expense and hassle of a frozen car engine.

Your tyres should be well-inflated and have a good tread for gripping on to snowy and icy ground.

If you are making a long winter journey through uninhabited areas, make sure you leave with a full tank. If you are likely to encounter extreme conditions, consider investing in winter tyres or tyre snow socks/chains.

This helpful video from RAC shows you how to check your car is ready for the winter.

Battery Playing Up

Car batteries are more prone to malfunction in the winter, and are a major factor for winter callouts. There are some simple things you can do to enhance your car’s battery life, but remember that an old car battery may need replacing.

  • Don’t drain your battery unnecessarily- switch off lights, heaters and wipers before you turn your engine off.
  • Don’t overuse extras such as heaters, satnavs, DVDs, phone chargers and iPods as they can drain your battery.
  • Test your car battery- this should be done every few years at least.

The Winter Elements

Different weather conditions mean different driving conditions, so you must adjust your driving style accordingly. We have included a driving checklist for the most common UK winter conditions to help you drive safe.

Heavy Rain

A lot of the UK will experience bouts of heavy rainfall over the winter months.

  • Lower your driving speed, and increase your safe distance.
  • Headlights should be dipped at all times.
  • Don’t use your rear fog lights, they will dazzle other drivers.
  • Watch out for large & fast-moving vehicles which create spray and reduce visibility.
  • And don’t soak pedestrians or cyclists with your spray either!
  • If you break down, keep the bonnet closed to avoid your car’s electrical system getting wet.
  • Aquaplaning is when your tyres lose contact with the road, and your steering suddenly feels light. If this happens, ease off acceleration, don’t brake and allow your car to slow until you have control again.
  • Don’t drive fast through deep water, this can cause a lot of damage.
  • Don’t venture into water if you can’t see how deep it is.

Foggy conditions

Reduced visibility brought on by fog can be very dangerous.

  • Lower your speed, and increase your safe distance.
  • Use your headlights and fog lights, but turn off your fog lights off as soon as conditions improve so as not to blind other drivers.
  • Headlights should be dipped at all times.
  • If you really cannot see, consider stopping until it is safe to continue.

High Winds

The following tips should be followed when driving in strong wind, as high winds can be very dangerous for drivers due to their unpredictable nature.

  • Choose a more sheltered route if you can.
  • Increase your safe distance.
  • Drive slowly- be especially vigilant in exposed areas.
  • Grip the steering wheel firmly- don’t let strong gusts catch you off guard.
  • Give other road users more room than usual, giving cyclists and motorcyclists a particularly wide berth. (Motorcyclists should really avoid travelling in high winds).
  • Keep an eye on other vehicles and wind patterns.
  • Be mindful of extra debris on the road.

Snowy conditions

Snow is lovely, but it can make driving tricky. A lot of the UK does not get snowy at winter, but it’s still worth bearing these driving tips in mind, just in case you find yourself suddenly surrounded by snow.

  • Clear your car roof of snow before setting off.
  • Operate your controls in a smooth and slow fashion when driving in snowy conditions.
  • Accelerate gently, use low revs and use the highest gear possible to keep control of your car.
  • Higher gears can help your tyres grip on to snow, so consider moving off in second gear.
  • Leave bigger gaps between you and other drivers.
  • If you skid, steer gently into it and don’t let go of the steering wheel. Don’t hit the brakes and panic.
  • Compressed snow is icier than fresh powdery snow, so wheel tracks can be treacherous.
  • Sunglasses may be needed for sunny snow glare.
  • Don’t try to keep driving if your wheels spin in snow, as this will only dig you in deeper. Move your tyres from side to side to clear a track and use a shovel to dig yourself out.

Icy conditions

Icy conditions often come hand in hand with snowy ones, so it’s good to be aware of what to do when driving on ice.

  • Allow up to 10 minutes to clear your windscreen of ice using a scraper and de-icer, and don’t neglect the other windows in your car either. Don’t use water to de-ice the windscreen, as this will just freeze it over again.
  • You can use a lighter to warm up your key if your car locks freeze over.
  • Don’t drive off until you have good visibility.
  • Higher gears can help your tyres grip on to ice, so consider moving off in second gear.
  • Lower your speed, and increase your safe distance.
  • If you skid, steer gently into it and don’t let go of the steering wheel. Don’t hit the brakes and panic.
  • Turn back if icy conditions become too treacherous.

Hail

Hail can come about suddenly and surprise drivers in the winter.

  • Stay inside your car vehicle- hail falls fast, and can cause injury.
  • Windshields are the toughest windows in the car, so keep your car angled so that hail hits you there.
  • If hail is severe, pull over to a safe place to avoid damaging your car windows.

Winter Car Kit

Here is a list of some essential winter car kit that you should keep handy in case of any winter emergencies:

  • Ice scraper and de-icer for your car windows
  • Torch and spare batteries
  • Spare clothes, blankets and winter boots in case you get stuck in your car
  • Candles for light and warmth
  • First aid kit
  • Jump start cables
  • Food and warm drink in a thermos
  • Shovel for the snow
  • Reflective warning sign
  • Road atlas
  • Sunglasses
  • Mobile phone with charger
  • For tyres- spare snow socks and chains if conditions are bad