Winter is unsurprisingly the most hazardous time of the year on the roads. For many of us who live in the north of Scotland the long hours of darkness and the frequent bad weather are simply an occupational hazard. However as the leading garage group in the North of Scotland MacRae & Dick see the results of people not driving to the road conditions all too often.
With this in mind MacRae & Dick board director, James Hamilton, compiled their five easy tips for driving in winter.
#1 Check your car before you leave
It sounds simple but it is surprising how many people don’t check their car over from one week to the next.
Check your tyres regularly, ideally you should fit winter tyres from November through to March, they really do make a big difference to your road holding. If you don’t fit winter tyres you should ensure your tyres are correctly inflated, check the pressure regularly, remember the cold does affect tyre pressure. Also ensure you have good tread on your tyres, that’s the only part of your car in contact with the road, make sure it stays that way!
If there’s been frost or snow ensure all your windows, especially your windscreen, are completely clear before you start. It can take a bit of time and nobody enjoys doing it on a cold morning when they are running late but believe us it is worth it. Reducing your vision even slightly increases the likelihood of an accent. Also be careful if using boiling water to clear a fronzen windscreen, it can crack the glass or damage the rubber on your windscreen wipers.
If it’s been heavy snow check that your exhaust isn’t blocked with snow.
Lastly ensure you have plenty of windscreen washer fluid. The roads are dirty at this time of year, salt and grit makes a mess and it’s important that your lights and windscreen are clear at all times.
#2 Keep a winter survival kit in your car
This might sound a little extreme but it really isn’t, it’s just common sense. A survival kit can literally be a life-saver if your car gets stuck somewhere in snow or ice. Make sure you have all of these essentials to help get you by:
Ice scraper, de-icer, a working torch, a spade, a warm blanket, a fully charged mobile phone, extra clothing and some food and water.
#3 Don’t Speed
We know it’s tempting, particularly on a quiet road but at this time of year it just isn’t worth it. You never know where there might be ice on the road, the low winter sun means even if the temperature rises the road can remain in shadow. If you catch a piece of ice while speeding the outcome could be disastrous not only for you but others so make sure you are sensible.
#4 Keep a safe distance from the car in front
Again this is common sense but you’d be surprised how few people follow it. By adding an extra few car lengths between you and the car in front you greatly improve your chances of stopping should the car in front brake suddenly or skid on ice.
#5 Check all your lights
It’s not just yourself you have to be aware of in winter, other drivers need to see you too. Visibility is often poor, even in daylight so it’s vital you can be seen. Consider having driving with your lights on all the time in winter. You’ll be using your lights more anyway so it is important you check they are working. Often people don’t know they’ve a light out until they go to a garage or are told by the police! It takes 10 seconds to check yourself.