(Posted on 09/02/23)
Winter driving can be a challenging and potentially dangerous experience for many drivers. As the temperatures drop and snow covers the roads, it is important to take extra precautions to ensure your safety and the safety of those around you.
How to drive safely in icy and snowy conditions
One of the most important things to consider when driving in the winter is your vehicles tire tread. Tire tread is the grooved pattern on the surface of your tires that helps to provide traction on the road. As the tread wears down, it becomes less effective at gripping the road, especially on wet or icy surfaces. If your tire tread is worn down, it is important to replace your tires before the winter months.
The stopping distance in snow and ice can be 10 times longer than on dry roads due to the lower traction and increased breaking resistance that occurs on snowy and icy surfaces. The average stopping distance for a vehicle travelling 60mph on dry roads is around 130-170 feet, but on icy and snowy roads, the stopping distance can be more than four times longer, reaching up to 600 feet or more.
Be aware of black ice, which is a thin layer of icer that can form on roads. It can be difficult to see and makes the road surface extremely slippery. To avoid black ice plan your routes ahead, preferably major roads, which are more likely to be cleared and gritted. However, sometimes black ice can’t be avoided. In the case, stop accelerating, steer the wheel in direction you want the car to go and gently feather the breaks when needed.
It is important to make sure your car is visible to others. Sleet, rain or snow can cause poor visibility whilst driving. Make sure your headlights, taillights, and turn signals are all working properly. Ensure all your windows are clear of snow, ice and condensation before you set off. In addition, it is a good idea to keep your windshield washer fluid topped up and to use winter-specific washer fluid that is designed to work in colder temperatures.
It is important to make sure your vehicle has the correct amount of antifreeze, as using the wrong type or nor enough can lead to engine damage. It should be checked regularly and replaced as per manufacturers recommended interval, as it can lose its effectiveness overtime. A mix of 50-50 antifreeze and water protects your engine down to -34°C.
If you are driving an automatic, check your vehicles handbook. Luckily some automatics have ‘winter mode’ or recommend selecting ‘2’ in icy conditions. You can select ‘manual mode’ for more control, as it is safer to downshift the gears to slow down the car rather than using the breaks.
Driving an electric car in winter
Cold temperatures can decrease the performance of an electric vehicle, reducing its range and overall efficiency. This is because the battery’s chemical reactions slowdown in cold temperatures, making it harder for the battery to hold a charge. Reducing the range by anywhere between 5-20%. Cold temperatures can also affect the charging time of electric cars. The battery may take longer to charge. Heating and defrosting an electric car may use more power to defrost the windshield, which can further reduce the battery’s range. It is important to plan your journey, to ensure there is charging point along the way to ensure you have enough range.
Have you thought of accident management? Our expert team of advisors are here to help in the event of an accident. They will help the driver through the whole process and make all the necessary arrangements to get your vehicle recovered and repaired. To find out more:
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