7 Essential Winter Driving Safety Tips

This November, we are focusing on Driving as our Hazard of the Month. As the cold creeps in and the lights switch on at 5pm, it is important to be especially careful when driving this Autumn/Winter period.

The Dangers of Driving in Winter Conditions

A snowy road.Just like we change how we dress in different seasons, motorists need to adapt the way we drive during the winter and be prepared for journeys that may take us through very varied weather, road and traffic conditions.

Autumn and Winter can bring rain, snow, ice and fog which cause extra dangers when driving that have the possibility to lead to serious accidents. For example, in 2014, figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that 29 people were killed, 251 were seriously injured and 2,274 were slightly injured in reported road accidents on Great Britain’s roads when there was snow or ice on the road surface.

Top Winter Driving Tips

1. Plan your travel.A person driving a car.

It’s important to pick the right roads and avoid areas that will be particularly weather-beaten. Use online maps ahead of a journey to see where traffic is worse and avoid any accident spots.

2. Control Your Speed

In normal dry road conditions, the two-second rule to the car in front still applies, but in wet weather you need to double this, while in icy conditions this should be up to 10 times greater.

3. Drive Smoothly

Remember to brake, accelerate, change gear and apply steering angle as smoothly as possible. You should make sure you look ahead as much as possible to avoid stamping on the brakes at the last minute as you should be more prepared to slow down early.

4. Pay Attention to Road Signs

Road signs and markings can give you a heap of important information that can make you safer. They can assist with telling you what the road surface is like, how steep the road is, what the limit is and what might be coming up.

5. Get to Grips with ABS

Make sure you understand how this works on your car. If you do not have ABS, you’ll need to pump the brakes in icy conditions. Make sure you’re familiar with what your car has and react accordingly.

6. Don’t ignore faults

Cracked windscreens, poorly charged batteries or fault lights on your dashboard shouldn’t be ignored. Even if you drive perfectly, a car that isn’t performing at its optimum could cause breakdowns or accidents.

7. Be Prepared

Make sure you have the necessary equipment and supplies in your car such as an ice scraper and de-icer, a portable charger for your phone and warm clothing in case of a breakdown.

Winter Driving Advice for Employers

A road and trees covered in snow.It is advised that employers have a winter driving policy for their staff who drive for work purposes.

It should cover:

  • Communicating when a journey should not go ahead due to extreme weather.
  • If a journey does go ahead, ensuring this is properly planned and managed.
  • Arrangements for emergencies so staff know what to do in the event of an accident, breakdown or getting stuck, plus checks for ensuring vehicles contain adequate equipment.
  • A check-list that makes sure vehicles are prepared for winter.