As we are now coming into the wintery weather, driving conditions can be hazardous and vary from day to day, so below are some of my tips to keep you safe on the road! If you want to have a go at some more “exhilarating” driving, please make sure you go to a motorsport school and do it safely, crazy driving is NOT for the road!
· Prepare your car – ensure you have de icer or an ice scraper, ensure your lights are clean and working, all wiper blades are clean and in working order, screenwash is fully topped up, tyre condition, tread and depth is of a safe standard, brakes are working well and anti freeze and oil are kept topped off. Remember to get your car serviced when it requires it!
· When the weather temperature really starts to drop, make sure you have emergency supplies in your car – mobile phone and charger, warm clothes/blanket, a torch and a hot flask if you are on a long journey! It is also highly advisable to have motoring breakdown cover to ensure someone will be along to help you in the event of a car failure!
· Driving in the rain – rain greatly reduces visibility and stopping distances! Allow TWICE your normal braking distance in the rain, ensuring you have enough time to stop. Use your wiper blades and dipped headlights(in the daytime) or main headlights at night. Do not use your fog light unless visibility is under 100m – fog lights blind other drivers so only use if definitely required during fog, they are not for use in just rainy weather!
· Aquaplaning – aquaplaning happens when driving too fast into surface water, the tyre cannot channel the water away quick enough. Ensure tyre pressures and depth are at the required standard to help avoid aquaplaning. If you do aquaplane, ease off the accelerator and brakes to allow the car to re-grip the road again.
· Driving in snow and ice – reduce your speed to the point where you won’t skid if you need to stop and avoid harsh braking, acceleration and sharp steering. Driving on ice can increase your braking distance up to TEN times from your normal braking distance. To brake safely on ice, drop your car into a lower gear than normal, allow it to slow down and then apply the brakes. If there are weather warning, ensure you listen to them prior to travelling and only essential travel should be done during extreme conditions.
· Driving in low sunshine – ensure your windscreen is clear and free from grease and reduce your speed. You might not see pedestrians/cyclists/horse riders in time due to the glare from the sun. Always remove your sunglasses once the sun has gone in.
· Driving in fog – only use your fog lights when visibility drops below 100m in front and when there is no car behind you – once the car behind you can see you, turn the rear lights off to avoid dazzling the driver behind! Slow your speed down and if you are driving through patchy fog, remember it can appear just as quickly as it disappears!
· Driving in high winds – hang on to the steering wheel, avoid bridges where possible and be aware of falling debris.