Throughout late autumn and all of winter, driving conditions become worse and worse as the evenings darken and the weather turns nasty. Although the season doesn’t officially begin until the end of December, you can be forgiven for thinking that conditions outside are wintery. We would always advise that you apply winter driving tips to your driving as early as now, in mid-autumn.
To add on to our safe driving tips for driving in the rain, we’ve written below some additional advice for driving in adverse weather conditions.
If you don’t already have one, now is an important time to pack an emergency kit to keep in your car. Storing snacks and water in your boot will help you out if you are stuck for any reason, but we would also recommend that you include the below in your emergency kit for winter driving:
- Warm clothing and/or a blanket and winter boots
- A spare, fully-charged mobile phone
- A torch
- A first aid kit
- A shovel and de-icing equipment
- Jump start cables
We would also advise that you keep a hazard warning triangle in your car at all times so that you are able to appropriately signal to other road users that your car is encountering issues and has therefore become a hazard. Although included in our winter driving tips, this is a good thing to have in your car at all times.
Fog Lights: When to use and when not to
You may find that you need to use your fog lights throughout the autumn and winter, so it is important to remember when to use them and when to turn them off.
Fog lights are to be used when visibility is severely reduced, but should be used with caution, so we wanted to remind our readers of how to use them for our winter driving tips.
When you cannot see further than around 100 metres in front of you, it would be considered appropriate to use your fog lights. However, fog lights cause a high risk of dazzling cars behind you, which can be dangerous. Keep in mind that if you can see a car behind you, then they can see you, and you should turn your fog lights off.
The most important element for ensuring you stay safe when driving in winter is to make sure that your car is up to the task. Generally people only upgrade to winter tyres if they will be putting their vehicle through extreme conditions, but it may be worth considering. At the very least, you should ensure that your tyre tread and pressure are at the required level for winter driving; these figures can be found in your vehicle’s handbook.
In addition to your tyres, we recommend having the following elements of your car professionally checked:
- Wiper blades
Driving in snow and ice
One of the important winter driving tips to remember for driving in snow and ice is to try to do everything gently. Sharp turns and quick braking could put you in danger when driving in snow and ice. By keeping your maneuvers steady and allowing yourself plenty of space from cars infront and time for your journey, you can give yourself every opportunity to be careful when driving in the snow.
If you do find yourself skidding due to snow or ice, avoid the temptation to brake. Instead, ease off your accelerator and steer into the skid. This will stop the skid from escalating. To prevent skidding, try dropping down your gears to slow yourself instead of braking, where possible.
When driving in snow, what gear should I use?
When driving in the snow, you should pull away in second gear rather than first gear. You should also use lower gears when going downhill, and use high gears when going uphill; try to avoid changing gears where possible when going uphill.
Drive on major roads
Planning your journey can go a long way in helping you to have a safe drive in winter conditions. One of the best winter driving tips, we’ve found, is to use major roads as much as possible when there is a potential for snow or ice. Major roads will have more likely been gritted and prior traffic will have cleared them somewhat, making them safer roads to drive on. However, you should still exercise extreme caution as you will likely be driving at higher speeds than on smaller roads, so remember to increase your stopping distance and drive with vigilance.
If you’re in need of a car service to get your car ready for winter, or want more tips and advice for driving your car in adverse conditions including winter driving, don’t hesitate to give our expert team a call. We’re not just experts on VW cars but other makes too, so whether you’re looking for an MOT, a routine service, or repairs, we can help.