According to Goodyear Tyres UK, 53 per cent of motorists surveyed say they find driving in the snow and ice nerve-racking, with a further 48 per cent listing de-icing wind screens in the mornings as a problem.
Some 40 per cent of British drivers also believe more grit should be provided by councils during periods of icy weather.
In addition to an increased nervousness on the roads, day to day practicalities present a challenge too. Winter weather adds up to 10 minutes to rushed morning routines for 45 per cent of people, while for 25 per cent it adds another 10 to 20 minutes.
Kate Rock, PR & Corporate Communications Manager UK&I, Goodyear Tyres, advises planning ahead for the cold spell, “Preparation is key for motorists all year round, but particularly during winter when road conditions are harsher and accidents are more likely.
“Simply checking you have adequate tread on your tyres will ensure your car will grip better when driving on ice and snow. If you live in an area that is commonly known for extreme winter conditions – where temperatures are regularly below seven degrees – you should consider changing to winter tyres.
“Allow more time in the morning to clear your car windows and mirrors of snow and frost before setting off and ensure your screen wash and de-icer is topped up”.
Here, Kate Rock from Goodyear Tyres UK provides their top driving tips below to make sure your safe on the roads during the forecasted period of ice and snow:
1) Watch your speed:
It seems like an obvious point, but the roads are far more treacherous in poor weather. Be mindful of increased stopping distances in wet or icy conditions which will affect your tyres grip on the road.
2) Check your tyres for wear:
Check your tyre pressure and tread depth regularly (Goodyear recommends a minimum tread depth of 4mm for winter tyres to ensure optimal performance). You can easily check your tyre tread depth by placing a 20p coin into the tread of your tyre. If the outer rim of the coin is visible, the tyre is approaching the legal minimum tread depth and you should consider replacing it.
3) Use a higher gear to start and pull away:
Spinning your wheels quickly can dig the vehicle deeper into the snow so try to resist the temptation. Placing the car into a higher gear will mean less torque output and spin, giving you a greater chance of driving out of snow or mud.
4) Don’t ‘pump’ your brakes:
If you have anti-lock brakes, keep a steady pressure on the brake pedal so that your ABS system can bring your car to a halt quickly and safely. You’ll have more time to steer the car out of danger, and this could prevent you from skidding further.
5) Keep your distance:
Braking distances can increase by up to ten times in snow and icy conditions. Don’t just rely on brakes to bring you to a stop – make sure to decrease through your gears too to aid you safely.
6) Be careful over bridges or passes:
They are well known locations for icy patches, so slow down when going over them and surfaces can freeze at higher temperatures due to the wind chill effect.
7) Pack an emergency kit:
As winter weather is increasingly unpredictable, Goodyear recommends that all motorists pack an essential kit in case you find yourself stranded. Emergency supplies should include warm clothing, blanket, snacks, water, red warning triangle and a torch. An in-car phone charger is also recommended.
8) Avoid distractions:
You’ll need all the concentration you can muster in heavy snowy conditions as the visibility is likely to be very poor. Avoid distractions so you can get to your destination safely.
For your car there is also some helpful advice from LeasePlan
Screen wash Top up washer fluid regularly and give yourself extra time to de-mist your vehicle’s windows and wing mirrors; a rushed job could leave smears on your windscreen, making vision difficult in the low evening sun.
Check exterior lights Clean headlamps daily to ensure you can see and be seen. Salt and dirt can quickly build up, reducing visibility at night and in poor weather conditions. Wipe off excess dirt from your registration plate to make sure your vehicle is easily identifiable and keep some spare bulbs in the glovebox.
Car battery Cold and damp weather is a car battery’s enemy. If you have the correct equipment you can test a vehicle battery yourself, but it’s easier and recommended that you seek advice from a specialist. After tyres, batteries represent 16% of the AA’s typical breakdown workload.
Winter tyres It’s important to regularly check the tread depth and pressure of your tyres, which can improve braking and control in winter conditions. The legal tread depth limit is 1.6mm but you need more in snow. For frequent winter drivers winter tyres offer extra grip when temperatures drop below seven-degrees and on snow and ice.
Anti-freeze Ensure your anti-freeze is topped up regularly. Making sure you have the correct concentration is critical for the health of your engine. It is recommended to follow the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation. The concentrate is diluted with water prior to use and to ensure adequate cooling system protection a concentration of between 40% and 50% (by volume) is recommended.
Oil level Use your dipstick to check your vehicle’s oil levels weekly and top up if needed. Low oil levels could cause your engine to seize because is takes longer to reach vital parts, leading to a breakdown.
Lesley Slater, Operations and Business Development Director, LeasePlan UK, said, “It’s hugely important to maintain the upkeep of a vehicle during the winter months, not only to conserve its value and improve fuel economy, but also because inadequate maintenance can be dangerous and potentially cause an accident.
“In many cases, vehicle faults can be identified by a simple walk-around check; by responding to a difference in the handling of the vehicle; and by reacting to warning lights as soon as they appear on the dashboard.”
|Winter car kit
It may seem a little extreme to carry an emergency kit with you, but winter weather can be unpredictable. Pack for every eventuality and ensure you have the following:
De-icer and a scraper
A tow rope & chains, but try test fitting before you have to use them.
Food and drink, snacks and hot beverage advised.