Handy tips for safe driving in the winter months

Handy tips for safe driving in the winter months

For most of us, winter can be a particularly stressful time behind the wheel. The chillier weather tends to bring with it a whole host of dangerous driving conditions - apart from the general darkness, there’s also snow, ice, and heavy rain to deal with. It can be especially scary if you’re driving a borrowed vehicle, such as one you’ve rented through our car hire or flexi hire services. But we’ve got some good news for you - you can take some of the stress off with just a bit of extra preparation and care!

Snow and ice make for uncool driving conditions

The Met Office says that our chances of a white Christmas this year are slim, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared. If it’s snowing when you set off, it’s a good idea to make sure that you clear it from your roof before you hop behind the wheel. Otherwise, it can fall down onto your windscreen while driving, and even just a few seconds of interrupted visibility can be enough to cause disaster. In fact, it’s worth making sure that your windscreen is completely clear when you set off, and that you’re using a suitable additive in your screenwash to reduce the chances of it freezing. 

Ice, on the other hand, can cause its own problems. Whether you’re in a car or a van, wheel spin can be an issue. To avoid that when you set off, ease your foot gently off the clutch, and move off in second gear. Similarly, if you have to use your brakes then make sure you use them gently. If you can, it’s often better to decelerate by taking your foot off the pedal and letting the car naturally cruise to a stop, rather than zooming up to a crossing at normal speed and then applying the brakes at the last moment. Crucially, don’t let air out of your tyres to get more grip, despite what others may say. Contrary to what you might have heard, it does not work, and it’s very unsafe besides! 

Don't unde­res­timate heavy rain

You know what we’re going to say first - slow down! It’s normally recommended to leave at least a two second gap for braking distance. The Highway Code says that this distance is doubled in wet weather, so you’ll need to leave a four second gap. Make sure to use dipped headlights so that other drivers can see you easily, and don’t be tempted to use your rear fog lights - you run the risk of dazzling other drivers. 

It’s never a bad idea to treat large vehicles like vans and HGVs with particular caution, as they can often kick up spray and reduce visibility. (If you’re driving a van yourself, or one of our minibuses from here at Intack Self Drive, it’s worth bearing in mind when you may be posing this risk to other drivers, too. 

Perhaps most importantly, don’t be fooled by apparently shallow puddles of water - they can be just as dangerous as larger ones! Driving too fast through standing water might well result in your tyres losing contact with the road, which poses the risk of aquaplaning. It’s not as cool as it might sound - essentially, you’ll be skidding with very little control, which can all too easily lead to a crash. If that happens at high speeds, it can be devastating, so always make sure you treat standing water with extra caution! 

In fact, as a general rule of thumb, if you think the weather conditions might be unsafe then it’s better to try and avoid making the trip at all. If you absolutely have to, make sure to follow all the golden rules for all winter weather: make sure that your headlights are working, that your windscreen is clear and your visibility is unobs­tructed, and keep it slow and steady!

Following these simple tips can give you a whole lot more peace of mind if you’re taking advantage of the car hire, van hire or flexi hire services we offer here at Intack Self Drive. You can browse our wide range of vehicles right here on our site, or if you’ve got any questions or need any advice then just give us a call on 01254 57811 - we’re here to help!

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