Progress News

Safety: Care on the Roads This Winter

Posted in: Progress News

This article is part of a new series where we explore the safety of drivers on the road this winter. Stay tuned for more soon.
With the clocks about to go back and temperatures starting to fall it is safe to say winter has arrived. While it might just be coat weather at the moment, you can be sure that the mercury will plummet further and scarves and gloves will be needed. Once more, the Met Office predicts arctic conditions, and while you can never be sure just how bad it will be, winter driving requires a little more thought and preparation in order to stay safe. 

Be Extra Vigilant

As we gain an extra hour, we also find ourselves with the evenings getting darker earlier and the daylight hours being shorter. For most people, the time they go to work doesn’t change, and this can lead to pedestrians being incredibly tired, and not thinking or being as alert as much as you would hope. Dark clothing which is worn by pedestrians does little to help drivers when they meet them on the roads, so extra care needs to be taken to make sure you see people walking in the streets or trying to cross. As a side note, if you happen to be a walker from time to time, get some reflective clothing and stay seen - this not only keeps you safe but also other road users too.

Take More Time

Once the roads start to freeze overnight ice becomes a very real issue. Most of the main road network is gritted but never take for granted that the streets are always safe. Black ice is the most treacherous and so-called because you cannot see it until it is too late. If your journey is unavoidable during very cold temperatures, keep your speed low and try to avoid suddenly breaking. Keep everything smooth and remember that your stopping distance will be significantly increased, so brake earlier and slower. Slamming your brakes on is going to cause skidding and increase accident potential. 

Be Prepared

Winter can last for a few months; no-one is suggesting we stop driving for the whole season. For the most part, being extra vigilant and leaving a little more time for your journey will suffice. Daylight hours will be slightly warmer and therefore a little safer, so travel then if you can. However, regardless of the time you travel, take extra care early in the morning and once the dusk falls. Make sure you have checked your tyres, and they are in good condition with at least 1.6mm tread depth continuously around 3-quarters of the centre of the tyre.

Further, if you live on higher ground where temperatures are colder and often icier, winter tyres are available. Many people change their tyres to these before the worst of the weather hits, they can then be removed and carefully stored and use the following year provided they are still in good condition. Contact your local mechanic or tyre supplier if you're unsure. Standard tyres are fine but ensure they are correctly inflated and have the legal minimum tread mentioned above.

In particularly bad weather carry advised essentials such as blankets, a shovel, a charged phone, a hot flask etc., many often think "I will never need that" - but remember, it might not be for you in the end, you may come across other road users in need of assistance, or which may cause your journey a substantial delay. If your car is covered in snow, you cannot drive it until you have cleared all the snow, not just from the windscreen but from the roof, driving with snow all over the car is illegal, as it can fly off, and affect other drivers site, lower the safety of the road it lands on, or worse - causes an accident due to blocking the vision by landing in the path of other drivers.
The bottom line is simple, think, slow down and take your time. Winter driving can be very safe, but you need to take the correct precautions - ensuring you, your passengers and fellow road users remain as safe as possible.

Do you have questions?

We're always here to help encourage safer roads across the UK - if you have any queries, questions or know of anyone who is looking at learning to drive - do it with an established driving school like Progress. Click here to contact us - our team will be more than happy to help.

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