A ‘Christmas car’ spotted driving at full speed on the road stuns motorists – but is it legal?
This winter, more than a million drivers will drive without taking the necessary precautions to check that their car is ready for winter driving. According to research by 1st Central, the most common cause of accidents in the colder months is ice on the road. To help motorists stay safe during the cold wave, here are some important tips for driving in difficult conditions.
Changing harder summer tires to softer winter tires can help when driving in wet weather as softer rubber has more traction on ice and snow. Be sure to check the health of your car’s tires by ensuring they meet the minimum tread depth of 1.6mm as required by law – good tire grip can improve steering, reduce braking distance and reduce the risk of aquaplaning.
Everyone loves winter accessories
Don’t forget to carry extra window cleaning cloths and scrapers, and depending on the areas of the country you’re driving in, take tire chains and a small-sized shovel to dig yourself out of deep snow – parts of northern England, Wales and Scotland are usually more vulnerable to harsh winter weather conditions, and if you You drive there, you don’t want to be surprised.
If you’re going on a long car trip, also take an aluminum foil blanket with you in case you’re stranded in your car – it will keep you warm while you wait for help to arrive – as well as a high-visibility jacket to help other motorists see you if you’re waiting for help in the dark.
Shine bright on dark days
With the days getting shorter, it’s essential to be prepared and equipped to drive in low or poor light. Make sure all bulbs in the headlights are working and replace the dipped bulbs. If you haven’t done this before, refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on this, or take it to a local garage and they can do it for you. Cars equipped with halogen bulbs dim over time, so upgrade to legal HD bulbs where possible.
Make sure your car is well maintained
Make sure that the screen washer is suitable for temperatures up to 10 degrees, as sometimes it cannot withstand lower temperatures and engine freezing. A chip or scratch on your windshield can be dangerous if left unrepaired, especially in the winter when there is more sand on the road. Inspect your windshield regularly for any signs of damage and repair it immediately to avoid small cracks and chips growing larger. In fact, make sure your vehicle is fully serviced to avoid any issues while on the road this winter!
There is a correct way to defrost your car
When you get into a cold car, the first thing you should do is turn on the heater. However, a rapid rise in temperature will cause the windshield glass to expand and the pressure can cause any cracks or fissures to expand. Take extra time in the morning and evening to use a scraper and de-icer to completely remove ice and snow from your car so you don’t damage the glass or make any existing damage worse.
Remember double the stopping distance
Black ice can commonly be found on bridges, overpasses, and shaded roads. To deal with black ice and slippery areas, maintain a two-car length stopping distance between you and the car in front of you. Not only will this help reduce your stopping time, but it will also allow you to see and avoid tire spray from the car in front of you. Heavy tire spray is an indicator of whether the road surface is still wet or icy. If the weather is still wet, approach with caution and leave more distance between yourself and traveling cars.
One of the most serious malfunctions that can occur in your car during the winter is engine freezing. Proper coolant is very important because it keeps the engine cool in the winter without freezing. If you use water instead of high-quality coolant or antifreeze in your car’s cooling system, it will freeze, causing tremendous internal pressures that will damage your car’s engine. If your vehicle’s cooling system freezes, do not start the vehicle. Instead, turn it on and let it warm up gradually to relieve the cooling system and move fluids around.
Always check for road closures and listen for diversions before any long trips
It may seem obvious but check the radio or look up the road you are traveling on in case there are any road closures. Severe weather can change quickly, so try to get the latest status update before setting off. Most connected devices have navigation apps that will reroute your trip to circumvent detours, avoid heavy traffic, and estimate your arrival time. Many car radios come with a Radio Data System (RDS) as standard, this allows the car radio to temporarily switch to a station for the duration of the travel announcement, before switching back – check your settings to make sure this is enabled on your drive.
The bird that came early caught the worm…
…or in this case, getting you from point A to point B safely. The law states that you must drive with clean windows at all times, and cleaning your car’s windows, grilles and lights will take longer than you think. So, make sure you give yourself enough time to completely defrost or remove snow from your car with a scraper before setting off – don’t do something sloppy or you could have problems or accidents on your trip.
Park in stable, protected areas
Although you will want to park your car in a protected area to protect your vehicle from falling snow or heavy rain, it is important that you choose a protected, stable area. Avoid parking under trees, as snow falling on the branches will later land on your car, and strong winds will cause tree debris to fall on them, which may damage your car.