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Winter Driving Tips: Driving safely in the snow

Driving in snow can rattle even the most experienced driver, but there are lots of things you can do before you set off and while you’re on the road to stay safe. Here are our top winter driving tips we swear by:

Before you set off
PLAN YOUR JOURNEY
Make sure you know where you’re going and even take a mental note of where the services are on the way, in case you need to stop. Your Sat Nav will give you updates on traffic news but it’s also wise to keep a map in the car, in case you have no reception. Allow extra time for your journey and tell a friend or family member about your route so they know where to look if you are later than expected.

CHECK YOUR VEHICLE
A quick run through of the car will make driving safely in winter a breeze. Make sure you check that everything is working properly, including the lights and windscreen blades. 
Allow extra time to de-ice your car and de-mist the inside of your windscreen too, as it’s illegal to drive without full visibility through every window. Whatever you do, don’t pour warm water over the windscreen – it could make it crack!
Then look at your oil and coolant levels. Do you have enough screen wash? Consider adding some anti-freeze to it before setting off. Buy one of our service kits to make life easier. 
Don’t forget your tyres – for winter driving you should have between 2-3mm to be able to grip icy roads. Don’t over-inflate your tyres, as this is just as dangerous as them being low on air. Poor tread will not grip when driving on ice and snow.

PACK A WINTER CAR ESSENTIALS KIT
Be prepared for anything by keeping a special kit of essentials in the boot. This should include a torch (wind-up so it doesn’t run out of battery), a hi-vis vest to make you more visible if you breakdown, a warm blanket, a demisting pad, some water and snacks, a first aid kit, a warning triangle, heavy duty jump leads, spare phone charger, a tow rope, screenwash, de-icer, an ice scraper and a spade (in case you need to dig yourself out of the snow). 
It can also help to keep a small square of old carpet in the boot – this comes in really handy if you get stuck in the snow as you can use it to put under your drive wheels. Buy your winter essentials here

On the road
GENERAL WINTER DRIVING TIPS
It sounds obvious, but make sure you are wearing shoes that are comfortable (and dry) to drive in. Once you’ve set off, allow for greater stopping distance between cars and keep your speed slow to help you stay in control. 

Steer gently, brake progressively, and don’t go crazy on the throttle. 
If you’re going up a hill in snow or ice, leave plenty of room in front so you can maintain a constant speed without needing to change gear. Use a low gear for downhill and try to avoid breaking unless necessary, again leaving lots of space between you and the car in front.
When approaching a bend, brake before you actually start to turn the steering wheel. If your car loses grip try not to panic – the main thing is to keep hands on the wheel, take your foot off the accelerator and make sure that your wheels are pointing in the direction you want to go in.

HOW TO DRIVE ON ICE
When driving on icy roads, use the highest gear possible to help grip, and keep your speed down. Stopping distance is crucial here – you need to leave 10 times the normal recommended space between you and the car in front. If you do find yourself skidding, as we’ve already said, avoid braking hard; keep hands firmly on the steering wheel and steer into the skid. So, for example, if your car is sliding left, steer left. Be aware that bridges and overpasses often ice over quicker than normal roads, and shadows can also cause certain areas to become icier.

HOW TO DRIVE IN SNOW

wear sunglasses driving
Just as with driving on ice, if you do end up skidding, drive into it. Don’t take your hands off the wheel or slam on the brakes. 
If you’re in heavy snow, use your dipped headlights, and if visibility carries on dropping then whack the fog lights on (don’t forget to turn them off if visibility improves).
If the road hasn’t been gritted then be extra careful of driving in old wheel tracks as compressed snow is far more icy – and dangerous – than fresh snow. Don’t forget your sunglasses, which can help reduce the glare of low winter sun on the snow.
 
TOP TIP: Make sure you keep your car clean. The salt used to de-ice roads can cause corrosion to your car over time, so it’s worth making a point of cleaning it regularly throughout the winter months.

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