Depending on where you live in the world, driving through snow and ice might be part of life. For others, wintry conditions are a shock to the system, and driving in them is intimidating.
Depending on where you live in the world, driving through snow and ice might be part of life. For others, wintry conditions are a shock to the system, and driving in them is intimidating. You should always proceed with due care and attention, but here are some additional tips to make cold-weather driving a little less perilous.
#1 Clear your windows
There’s nothing worse than coming downstairs to find that your car is covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice. Clearing a vehicle is a laborious process involving hot water and a copious amount of towels, but it’s an essential process. Many cold-weather accidents are caused simply because drivers haven’t cleared their cars properly and are on the road with decreased visibility. This would be problematic in any conditions, but it can have devastating consequences when the roads are treacherous.
Don’t be tempted to leave just a small section of the window clear, and remember that you need to remove snow from your roof as well as the windows. Snow on the roof can easily fall while you’re driving, obscuring your vision. Run air-con inside to stop windows misting up and be sure to replace any worn down wiper blades - these are more important than ever in cold conditions. Thawing your car is certainly a chore, but it can prevent a serious accident.
#2 Take supplies
Cold weather plays havoc with engines and can lead to breakdowns. Slippery conditions make accidents more likely, and if you’re driving through a hilly area, it’s possible to get completely stuck through no fault of your own. As such, pack supplies in the trunk to keep safe in the event of a breakdown. Blankets are important, as are spare tires, but you’ll also want to pack some items to make you and your vehicle more visible.
A fluorescent jacket helps you stand out amongst the snow and ice, while a magnetic bar light mounted to your vehicle’s roof will make it impossible to miss. Visibility is important after an accident but even more so in the snow. Stopping times are dramatically increased on ice, so vehicles need to be warned of your presence well in advance. Jackets and lights serve the purpose perfectly and allow you to wait safely for help to arrive.
#3 Use the right tires
Important all year round, tire safety becomes absolutely essential during the winter months. First and foremost, check your tires for any damage like cuts or scrapes. Damaged tires suffer from less grip and should be replaced. Next, look at tread depth. Tires should have at least 3mm tread during the winter, which helps with grip. Don’t let the air out of your tires to increase grip. Not only is this ineffective, but it can be unsafe.
If you frequently drive in snowy conditions, you might want to consider specialized winter tires. These are engineered with ice in mind and come with a superior grip. Snow chains are another option in especially treacherous conditions, but only use them if there’s enough snow to prevent them from damaging the road surface.