Driving Home for Christmas
Due to difficult weather conditions, decreased visibility and higher levels of traffic taking to the road, driving over the festive period can be hazardous. That’s why it is important to take precautions to ensure that you stay safe on the road during the festive season.
As well as ensuring that your vehicle can cope with difficult winter weather, which you can have checked free at your local PTA Garage Services branch, it is important that you feel confident driving at this time of year.
PTA Garage Services have put together some advice which should help to keep you safe on the road this winter.
Before you set off
- Check that you can see clearly from all windows and mirrors.
- Take a look at the weather forecast and if snow, heavy fog or freezing conditions are predicted, you should not make journeys unless absolutely necessary.
- Plan your route so you can avoid lanes which will be unlikely to have been gritted and cleared.
- Allow yourself additional time to reach your destination and be prepared for the possibility of being late due to unfavourable driving conditions.
Starting your journey
In cold winter weather, your vehicle may take longer to respond than usual so it may be a good idea to allow your engine around thirty seconds to warm up before setting off. This will allow the oil to heat up and lubricate the engine, minimising the risk of the engine block suffering cracks and other damage from the cold.
When pulling away in snowy and icy conditions it might be a good idea to use second gear instead of first and be gentle with the clutch. This will help you to avoid wheel spin.
On the road
Whilst on the road you should maintain a speed which is fast enough to keep momentum but slow enough so that you will maintain control of your vehicle.
It is important that you maintain a gap which is ten times bigger than usual from the car in front in winter. This is because your reaction time and braking distances significantly increase on snow and ice and your speed and distance should reflect this.
Driving on snow and ice
You should avoid driving on snow and ice unless your journey is absolutely necessary as this can be dangerous and cause damage to your vehicle.
If you do need to, however, drive as smoothly as you possibly can by changing your gears gently and avoiding jerky movements whilst accelerating and braking.
If snow begins to fall whilst you are driving remember to use your fog lights or dipped headlights to make yourself visible to others on the road.
If you encounter difficulties on the road
f you find yourself stuck in the snow, you should stop your car as allowing the wheels to continue moving may mean that you dig yourself deeper. Instead, you should use a shovel to remove snow from around your tyres and then switch from a low gear to reverse and back again whilst lightly touching the accelerator to help you move out of the snow.
Whilst driving in winter you may also encounter black ice which could cause your vehicle to slide. If you do find yourself slipping, try to remain calm and let the vehicle to pass over the ice. Steering away, braking or accelerating can cause you to further lose control and instead you should steer straight or in to the skid.
Winter driving can be dangerous and it is important that you are confident that you and your vehicle can handle the difficult conditions. Visit your local PTA Garage Services branch for a free winter safety check to ensure that your vehicle is up to task. If you require further guidance when it comes to driving this winter, simply contact your local PTA Garage Services branch where one of our trained specialists will be happy to offer advice.