A guide to safe driving in the winter months

Published on 22/11/2017

Driving in the winter months can bring new challenges. Snow failing, icy roads and flooded areas are all conditions we should look out for over the next few months. This makes it crucial to prepare yourself and stay safe on the roads this winter.

Before heading out

- Being prepared for winter includes being prepared to change your plans if harsh weather is forecast.
Try not to take unnecessary journeys and stick to doing the important journeys only.

- Always check the weather forecast before you leave for your journey, keep in mind areas that are exposed
to the elements and areas that might be prone to flooding.

- If you do have to drive in harsh weather, remember the handy acronym, C.O.A.S.T.
This is five crucial elements that contribute to safer driving;

Concentration – The smallest lapse in concentration could lead to you being in a collision. Don’t be distracted
by your mobile phone, looking down to change the radio or anything else in the car.

Observation – Always check what is going on around you before making any manoeuvres. Observe what other drivers are doing and indicate your intentions with plenty of time.

Anticipation – Expect the unexpected. We can’t always predict what others are going to do so being aware of everyone around you and not taking any chances is best.

Space – Ensure you allow plenty of space and time when braking. Give all road users more room and brake
gently so that people behind can do the same.

Time – Allow extra time for your journey in harsh weather conditions and be prepared to use an alternative
route if necessary.

Find out how to prepare your vehicle for the winter months! Read our article ‘Ready for Winter?’ here!

How to handle driving in winter conditions

No matter how experienced in driving you are, driving in the winter weather conditions is challenging for everyone.
It is important to stay focused and alert in these conditions and be aware that other drivers may
not be as prepared as you are.
Here are some tips to help you drive safely in the winter conditions:

- Accelerate gently, use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as possible

- When moving off, use second gear as this will help to reduce wheel slip

- Triple the normal braking distance and allow enough space that you can stop slowly

- Try to stick to the main roads as these are more likely to have been gritted and cleared by other traffic

- When snow is failing, use dipped headlights or fog lights to help you. Remember to turn these off when the conditions are better

- Be vigilant for potholes, these are more likely to appear after freezing conditions and can cause damage to
your vehicle

- If you do encounter a skid, steer gently into it - for example, if the rear of the car is sliding to the right,
steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes

- During the winter months, flood waters can appear due to a heavy downpour in rain or melting snow.
Try to avoid driving through the deepest water which is normally by the curb. Drive slowly and avoid any
sudden acceleration. Ensure you test your brakes a few times before increasing your speed again

What to do if your vehicle breaks down:

- In most circumstances, you should stay with your vehicle and wait for help to arrive.
If you do need to abandon your vehicle, make sure it is clearly visible to other drivers
and is not causing an obstruction. Before leaving the vehicle, you will need to notify the local police
and give them an exact location of your vehicle, your number and how they can reach you. 

If you’re thinking of changing your car before winter sets in, Neva have offers available on all makes and models.