Traveling Safely in Winter

Every few years however there seems to be widespread disruption caused by exceptionally harsh conditions such as heavy snowfall which can appear overnight. So how can we ensure that we can still travel and stay safe during these times? In this blog we will cover some of the best tips you can use to help improve winter safety.

Driving in Snow & Ice:

Staying in a high gear will help you keep control in cars with manual transmission. When you begin to move get into second gear as quickly as possible and slowly raise the clutch. When snow and ice are on the road, reducing your speed and keeping a safe distance are essential. Experts recommend compensating for 10 times the normal stopping distance when snow is on the ground to ensure that you have enough time to safely stop the car.

Black ice is a hidden danger that can lurk on the roads and is particularly dangerous to drivers. Black ice is incredibly hard to spot, it can look like a regular puddle on the road however if your car begins to slide it can often be too late, particularly if on a bend.

All cars sold since 2004 in Europe are required to have an anti-lock braking system, ABS for short. ABS helps a driver maintain control by preventing wheels from locking, locked wheels increase stopping distances and prevent the vehicle from cornering (instead they will simply plough straight on). ABS is extremely effective in the wet, however in snow it can be counter productive actually lengthening stopping distances relative to a car with no ABS.

If you try to stop quickly on ice you will feel your cars brake pedal vibrating. This is normal, keep pressure applied. Do not pump the pedal as this will lengthen your stopping distance.In the past a wedge of snow would build up under the locked front wheels which would help slow the car however with ABS this no longer happens which is why the stopping distances have increased.

As always prevention is better than cure, adjust your speed to suit the conditions especially before a corner. Increase your distance from the vehicle in front. Take your time and don't worry if you are late. Better late than never is very much the mantra for winter driving.

Planning your route under harsh weather conditions is very important. You can find out what roads your local council will keep gritted on the gov.uk website here: https://www.gov.uk/roads-council-will-grit and adjust your commute accordingly when the harsh weather comes. If you have a road/pathway you want to keep gritted, you can top up your rock salt supply at our store.

Stay Prepared, Pack a Winter Bag:

Unfortunately when there is snow and ice on the road, it is inevitable that there will be more traffic accidents. Depending on the severity of the weather, it is possible that you can become stuck in your car for several hours and so having a winter pack left in the boot of your car can make any unexpected delays much more comfortable, and even save a life!

What Your winter pack should include:

  • A bottle of water
  • A bar of chocolate/ cereal bar
  • Blanket
  • Warm hat/ gloves
  • Ice scraper
  • Phone charger (compatible with your car)
  • Reflective jacket
  • Torch/ batteries

Walking & Cycling:

If you are cycling during harsh weather conditions, you will need to consider the reduced visibility and ensure that you can be seen on the roads. Ensuring that you have reflective clothes functioning lights on your bike is essential as the days are very short.

In the winter, the sun sits much lower in the sky and so we recommend keeping a pair of sunglasses with you just in case can be extremely helpful when navigating busy roads.

If you are walking in snow, ensure that you are wrapped up warm and wearing sturdy boots. Many walkways and paths may be covered with ice or may not have been gritted recently, so make sure you plan your route, take your time and leave a bit earlier than you would normally if commuting.

Preparing your Home:

Harsh winters can cause damage to your home, here are some tips you can take to get your home ready for winter:

  • Get your boiler serviced each year. Doing so will extend the life of your boiler and reduces the chances of it breaking down in the winter when you need it the most.
  • Insulate your water pipes by simply applying some foam insulation. This is extremely easy to do, inexpensive and will help prevent your water pipes from freezing over.
  • Adding insulation to your home is a great tip for helping keep it warmer for longer by stopping heat escaping and can even help reduce your heating bills too!
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