Weather-related dangers posed to motorists unarguably heighten when the dark mornings and evenings set in, heralding the advent of snow, ice and strong winds.
More vehicles take to the roads in autumn and winter months as people seek to make their lives more comfortable. This creates delays in itself.
“Add poor weather conditions into the mix and it means regular journeys typically take longer at this time of year,” says Alan Locke-Timmins of AYCEN garages in Manchester. “This necessitates forward planning and earlier departures, particularly if you’re driving for business reasons.”
“Couriers, haulage companies, chauffeurs, airport transport firms and other business road users not only need to plan ahead and adjust their schedules, but also need to ensure their vehicles are roadworthy,” warns Alan.
“Tyres, brakes, batteries, heaters, windscreen wipers, anti-freeze levels and lights all need checking before and during winter”
Fuel consumption typically rises in cold weather and is further affected by queues of stop-start traffic, highlighting the need to ensure enough petrol or diesel is in the tank before making a medium or long journey.
“Motorway closures due to bad weather make the lives of all motorists miserable and for lorry drivers forced to sleep in their cabs in cold conditions,” Alan states.
“It is recommended they take warm clothing, a flask, food and a torch with them,” suggests Alan. “Businesses also need a contingency plan in the awareness that deliveries may be delayed at this time of year.”
Winter Driving Guidance
All motorists need to adopt a different driving style in winter months, including:
- Increasing the distance between them and the vehicle in front
- Braking smoothly
- Taking extra care in urban areas
- Looking out for cyclists whose visibility will be impaired
- Being vigilant over potential patches of black ice on less-used roads
“Fresh snow usually provides more traction than the compacted snow inside other vehicles’ tyre tracks,” advises Alan.
“If a vehicle begins to slide, the driver should gently steer in the direction the rear of the car is sliding in,” continues Alan. “For example, if a car’s rear slides towards the nearside, the driver should also steer towards the nearside.”
Braking in winter should be gentle and not sudden, to reduce skid risk.
- Winter tyres are advantageous and don’t necessarily prove expensive
- Ice scrapers and de-icer sprays shouldn’t be kept in vehicles
- Ideally a soft brush should be used to clear snow as opposed to boiling kettle water.
- Drivers should also take advantage of the winter mode available in some cars, which reduces throttle sensitivity and increases traction.
“Safe driving in the winter months will ultimately help reduce delays and lost revenue,” concludes Alan, “and will result in a more pleasant motoring experience for all road users.”