Low visibility, icy roads, unpredictable weather conditions and long periods of darkness will make even the most confident driver feel unsure about taking their vehicle out on the road.
The fear of a personal injury or serious accident can make drivers feel incredibly anxious while driving in the winter months, but there are ways of staying safe on icy roads and confidence can be partially restored with the knowledge that you are prepared for an emergency, bad driving situation or a breakdown.
Even the worst situations can be improved if we are well prepared. Get your vehicle checked and serviced professionally before the worst weather conditions begin. Not only will this prolong the life of your car – it will mean that you are less likely to find yourself struggling in unfavourable weather. If you decide to perform these checks yourself then ensure your lights are in good working order, your tyre pressure is correct, your brakes work well and your fluid levels are topped up. Don’t forget to check the fluid levels of your wipers as well – the windscreen wash should be mixed in the correct concentration to stop it from freezing.
By putting together a winter inventory for your car, this will mean that in the event of a crash, breakdown or accident, you will have everything that you need to get help, stay warm, or fix your vehicle. Packing these items in the boot of your car will give you ample resources in an emergency:
- A shovel – invaluable if you need to clear snow from the front of your car
- Wellington boots – preferably lined. Excellent if you find yourself having to stand in the cold and wet weather to repair or check your vehicle.
- De-icing equipment – essential. Always ensure that you are well-stocked with de-icer.
- First aid kit.
- A working torch (and spare batteries).
- Warm clothes and a thick blanket – if you had to spend the night in your car, you will definitely need these.
- Food and drink with a long shelf life. Bottled water, crisps, chocolate and dried fruit are fine. Just don’t be tempted to eat them for no good reason!
- Spare mobile phone. This should be fully charged and able to accept your SIM card. This way, if your own phone runs out of battery you will have a backup.
- Sunglasses – stick these in your glove compartment in case bright winter sun is hindering your driving.
Consult the internet or the news before leaving, so that you can anticipate unfavourable weather conditions. Listening to the radio while driving can keep you updated on any road closures, blockages or severities. Many people now have SatNav systems or smartphones to help them navigate the best routes, but you should also carry a roadmap just in case technology fails!
Driving your car in a hurry is a recipe for disaster, even in the most pleasant weather. If you’re driving during the winter, you should leave plenty of time for your journey. This means you will feel calmer while driving, won’t feel the need to drive too fast, and won’t take risks on the road. Remember – you are not the only one whose life could be at risk. Even if you come off fine in a car accident, you could find yourself facing a lengthy court case for causing personal injury (or worse) to another driver.
If the worst happens, don’t panic. Seek help as quickly as possible and assess the situation. Don’t forget that you may need to collect evidence for a later date, especially if your car is damaged, you’ve been hurt, or you’ve been in a collision with another driver.