Winter Motor safety checklist
Winter Motoring Tips
Sparkling snow might look pretty on a Christmas card, but wild wintery weather produces a whole host of hazards for those on the road. We’ve compiled a winter safety checklist to make sure you get from A to B, warm and trouble free.
Pre Flight Checks:
Just as a pilot wouldn’t fly without performing his checks, you shouldn’t hit the road without knowing that your car is seasonally safe and able to get you to your destination. A good place to start is the bottom, check your tyres have ample tread; preferably a minimum of 3mm, (the legal limit is 1.6mm) as this will help to disperse surface water and should help to stop you skidding. Try and have your car’s battery tested before winter really strikes to avoid being left out in the cold. Make sure you are properly filled up with antifreeze to stop your engine freezing. If it’s not raining in Cumbria it’s snowing, either way you’re going to need your wipers working to their full capacity. Check and replace any damaged wipers before hitting the road as a damaged pair is going to make it almost impossible to see over the winter months.
Let there be light; make sure to clear snow and ice off all lights, including your taillights and don’t forget to turn them on. It’s surprising how many people drive round in almost blizzard conditions without any lights on. As well as being your guiding lights through the inclement weather they also light you up to other road users increasing your visibility and reducing your chance of a collision. Check all your exterior and interior lights are working before setting off on a journey, after all if you do break down you need to be able to see where your provisions are.
Really Sherlock, this might seem like the obvious answer. But with many of Cumbria’s rural population choosing to drive 4×4 vehicles we can often be lulled into a false sense of security. Four-wheel-drive might help you getting out of your farm lonning in the morning but it’s going to do nothing for you when you’re slamming on the breaks or trying to negotiate a wayward Corsa at 60mph on the A595. Driving too fast is unsurprisingly the biggest cause of collisions during winter. Try to avoid sudden or aggressive acceleration, braking or turns as the poor conditions can result in a loss of traction and ultimately a skid. So chill out (no pun intended), slow down and set off in good time.
Cruise control is a marvel of modern invention like sliced bread and catch-up TV. This little ditty helps you avoid sickening speeding tickets and relieves you of foot fatigue but during winter time your best friend becomes your worst enemy. Using cruise control in winter is extremely dangerous as if your car begins to skid or aquaplane on the ice or rain the cruise control will automatically kick in to dry and maintain the constant speed you have set, this invariably makes it far more likely that you will lose control and spin off into a hedgerow or potentially the opposite lane.
De-Ice Ice Baby:
One of the less desirable aspects of winter is the fact we are resigned to spend every morning de-icing the windscreens of our cars. Although it may seem logical, the best way to do this isn’t to pour the remnants of the kettle over the windscreen. It will remove the ice but if the temperatures too hot it could shatter your windscreen and you don’t want to be footing that bill in the run up to Christmas, similarly if the water isn’t warm enough it could end up freezing on your windscreen further compounding the issue, see where we’re going with this. Many people simply start their car up and let the heaters do the hard-work whilst they’re finishing their morning brew; as well as taking ages whilst wasting fuel and increasing engine wear you also leave your motor particularly vulnerable to being nicked. The best option is to invest in a trusty scraper and can of de-icer. Try and avoid using your wipers to remove ice as it’s only going to damage them and as discussed before, you’ll need them later.
Follow all government advice and don’t travel during snow-storms if you can absolutely avoid it. It’s better to sit at home and wait out the storm with a nice cup of hot chocolate or mulled wine than to try and battle on through a blizzard and end up sleeping half frozen in a lay-by somewhere. Don’t be embarrassed about sticking to your rather sensible guns and skipping the treacherous trek to the office, it’s better to arrive late than never.
- Mobile Phone (Fully Charged)
- First Aid Kit/Medication
- Road Atlas/Sat-Nav
- Bottled Water & Snacks (Chocolate, Cereal Bars, Crisps)
- Extra Screenwash
- Big Winter Coat, Hat, Gloves, Boots
- Ice Scraper & De-Icer
- Torch & Batteries
- Extra Screenwash
- Blanket, Rug or Sleeping Bag