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A guide to winter driving hazards

It doesn't often snow in the UK but when it does the country tends to grind to a halt, motorists become stranded and the snow and ice make front page news. Winter driving hazards are a pain, but good preparation, some thought and most importantly taking care whilst driving goes a long way to being safe on the road in winter.

What are the driving hazards in winter?

Snow and ice make the roads treacherous in winter particularly if the roads haven't been gritted. There's also reduced visibility to consider when it's snowing or foggy, which is made worse at night. Motorists will encounter increased problems driving and controlling the vehicle on a slippery and icy road. Even when the road looks clear driving too fast can cause problems due to patches of black ice that are difficult to see. All of these elements add to winter driving hazards.

Preparation for winter driving

Ideally have your car serviced leading up to winter to ensure it is in a safe and drivable condition. Top up your car with anti-freeze and screenwash to ensure the windscreen is kept clean. Also ensure that all the lights are working.

It may sound obvious but ensure that your windscreen, windows and mirrors are clear of snow and the windows are mist-free before you start driving.

What to take with you on winter journeys

It's advisable to have certain provisions in the car with you when driving in snowy or wintry conditions particularly on a long journey:

  • de-icer and scraper
  • torch
  • first-aid kit
  • shovel
  • tow rope
  • hazard warning triangle
  • a pair of wellington boots
  • a blanket
  • food, water and a hot drink

What precautions to take when driving in winter?

Firstly heed weather warnings and only drive if you have to and therefore avoid winter driving hazards all together. Plan your journey carefully before setting out and ensure your car is stocked up with the items you might need such as food, a torch and a shovel. Fully charge your mobile phone and take it with you in case of an emergency.

Give yourself more time for each journey and take even more care on the roads than usual. Lastly, stop and take regular breaks. Driving in winter conditions can not only be stressful but tiring.

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