Top tips for safer winter driving

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Keep you and your family safe on the roads as the days get colder

The summer months are behind us, the evenings are getting darker and the days are colder.

A government report suggests that poor road conditions can limit visibility and make the road surface more slippery, so it’s vital to ensure you’re driving as safely as possible and taking all necessary precautions.

Read on for our top tips on how to safely drive this winter.

Make essential checks on your vehicle

Although this should be done regularly throughout the year, it is especially important during the colder periods to make all the relevant safety checks on your car.

These include:

  • Making sure that your bulbs are properly working and your lights are clean. This is extremely important during winter as the darker evenings will restrict your visibility
  • • Checking that your car battery is in full working order. The battery can be susceptible to damage during the cold and wet weather, so getting this checked out can avoid any nasty breakdowns
  • Testing your tyres regularly. Keep an eye on any signs of damage, and check the pressure and tread regularly. In addition, consider investing in some winter tyres. These are not essential for the cold season, but will greatly help when driving in wet, icy or snowy conditions. Winter tyres have better grip and aim to significantly improve stopping distances
  • Look after your windscreen and check your screen wash levels. Screen wash is important to stop the windscreen wipers from causing friction throughout the year, but this is especially vital during the winter months as the windscreen will often be frozen over completely. Check out Admiral’s Windscreen Cover
  • Check your oil, water and fuel levels regularly, especially before a long journey.

Many places will offer a winter servicing package where a lot of these can be professionally checked and fixed for a fee. KwikFit recommend that you service your vehicle at least every 12 months or 12,000 miles, but it can be useful to get your car checked out at the beginning of the winter season.

Admiral’s Quick Check guide can help to understand the ins-and-outs of your vehicle, should you wish to make the winter essential checks yourself.

Carry an emergency kit

With the change in weather, you never know when you might be stranded and need some essential equipment.

Keep these items in the boot of your car and save them for a rainy - or snowy, wet or windy - day:

  • a torch
  • warm layers
  • de-icer
  • an ice scraper
  • first aid kit
  • a map (in case you have no signal/battery)
  • jump leads
  • a shovel.

The Met office and RAC warn of the dangers of relying on technology when driving in the colder months: “A phone light won’t really give you visibility if you’re stuck by the side of country road in winter. A large torch with spare batteries or a wind-up torch which doesn't require battery power is essential for your vehicle.

“We also rely heavily on phones and in-built car technology for maps but if you have no battery in your car you may find you are limited with your phone battery too. It’s worth having a paper road atlas in case of diversions or getting lost.”

Prepare for your journey

If you are planning a long journey or using a different route to normal, make sure you plan ahead and prepare for every eventuality. Double check you’ve brought your emergency kit, and check for any travel updates on the roads you intend to take.

Account for factors which could lengthen your journey, such as darker evenings and bad weather. The sun can set as early as 4pm in the winter months, so take this into consideration when planning your route. Read Admiral’s guide to Driving in Poor Weather.

Prepare yourself

The colder months bring with them a host of festivities and opportunities for fun, but make sure you’re responsible when driving. Don’t drink and drive, and make sure you’re aware of the limits as well as the severe penalties.

The darker evenings can mean it’s especially important to ensure you don’t leave valuables in clear view of passers-by. It’s possible that some will take advantage of the reduced visibility and will take their chances at breaking into your vehicle ­ so make sure that you’ve always parked in a well-lit area and have comprehensive insurance cover.

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