posted 8 years ago

Winter Driving Tips

Winter driving can be trickier than raising teenage daughters.

Winter driving can be trickier than raising teenage daughters. Factors such as extreme weather, poor visibility, and heavy traffic can conspire to create genuinely hazardous conditions. However, a bit of planning and a little knowledge can minimise the impact of these inconveniences.

There are two elements to consider, vehicle preparation and driving techniques. Vehicles should, of course, be regularly serviced to maintain their reliability. Ideally this would include a battery and tyre check. It is also worth cleaning the windows, headlights, and mirrors to maximise visibility. The next stage is to purchase an emergency kit. This could include de-icing equipment, high-visibility warm clothing, refreshments, and a shovel. Once the vehicle is prepared you may actually want to drive somewhere. This, of course, assumes there are no severe weather warnings. As well as maintaining a sensible distance to hazards, there are various techniques which can help motorists master the elements. The most important is to be smooth. Gentle acceleration minimises wheel-spin, light braking reduces skids, and progressive steering helps maintain stability.

As well as these general guidelines there are specific phenomenon to consider, e.g. aquaplaning. This can occur during rainstorms when the tyres cannot disperse enough water to grip the road. Motorists therefore slide across the surface of the water and can lose steering control. To recover simply lift the throttle, avoiding braking, and wait for the traction to return.

Skidding is another common hazard, i.e. sliding uncontrollably forward with locked wheels and limited steering. Modern vehicles generally have anti-skid systems, but millions of older cars lack this feature. The good news is that straight skids are relatively easy to control. Usually pumping the brakes repeatedly will do the job. Winter driving is inevitably more dangerous than wafting through the countryside in summer, but the risk can be managed. The key is to prepare properly, minimise journeys, and drive in a silky smooth manner. This approach should keep you happily motoring until the sunshine returns next spring.