Warminster drivers - Top Tips for driving in the Snow
By wp_alistair | Saturday, February 04, 2012, 18:49
As the snow falls we can all get carried away with the romanticism and the pretty scenes, but for many drivers the thought of driving in the snow makes them break out in a cold sweat.
Take care when out in the snow over the next few days
So, to keep Warminster drivers safe - and on the road rather than in a ditch - here are our top tips for driving in snowy conditions.
Keep your car engine topped up with Antifreeze. It only costs a few pounds, but could save you hundreds of pounds in repair work if you can prevent it from freezing. If your car begins to overheat within just a few miles, it is highly probable that the radiator has frozen prevent the coolant from circulating. Stop the car and allow the radiator to thaw.
You definitely need a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water in the cooling system for winter. This gives your engine the maximum protection down to -34° centigrade, and without it, severe engine damage costing hundreds of pounds can occur.
It is important to keep the windscreen and other windows clear – if your driving view is obscured through snow or dirt you could face a penalty. Also a good idea to clear snow from the roof as well as from windows as this can fall onto the windscreen obscuring your view. It can be a hazard to other road users as well as it flies off the roof of the car at high speed.
The dazzle from a low winter sun can be a particular problem - anyone who has every driving along the road from Picket Post Gate to Horningsham in the morning will know all about this.
Make sure that the windscreen is clean both inside and out. Greasy smears on the windscreen that don't go with use of a normal screenwash will require a little work, maybe with a glass polish, dissolved dishwasher powder or old-fashioned vinegar and newspaper.
Top up your windscreen washer fluid and treat with a suitable anti-freeze to reduce the chance of freezing - that can be a nightmare. Filthy screen from the snow and no water to wash it off with - been there, done it, not a good idea.
Make sure that all your bulbs are working and that lenses are clean. When roads are really mucky you might need to clean lights after every journey otherwise you may find your lights become significantly less effective. Sounds silly but keep the number plates clean too, as you can be fined if they are dirty and illegible.
You should be using headlights when visibility is reduced, even in the daytime. You may also use front or rear fog lights but these must be switched off when visibility improves as they can dazzle other road users and obscure your brake lights.
The AA recommend at least 3mm of tread for winter motoring, and certainly no less than 2mm.
It is rare in the UK to need snow chains unless you live in an isolated area hit with heavy snow, and where the roads have not been cleared.
Consider changing to winter or all season tyres – these tyres have a higher silica content in the tread which gives better road grip in cold wet conditions.
Driving in snow and ice
Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving - stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow. No more aggressive braking or accelerating, you will find the car much more difficult to control.
Wear comfortable, dry shoes for driving. Snow-covered shoes or boots run the risk of slipping on the pedals.
In snow you might find it easier to pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin that you might have encounteredt in first gear.
Avoid having to stop part way up a hill and having to perform a hill start in the snow (nightmare) by waiting until it is clear of other cars or by leaving plenty of room to the car in front.
When travelling downhill reduce your speed before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid using the brakes wherever possible. An obvious piece of advice is to leave as much room as possible between you and the car in front.
If you have to use brakes then apply them gently rather than slamming them on. Release the brakes and de-clutch if the car skids.
If you drive an automatic car, in slippery, snowy conditions it's best to select option '2', which limits the gear changes and also makes you less reliant on the brakes. Some automatics have a 'Winter' or 'snow' mode which removes first gear to reduce the risk of wheel spin.
In the worse case scenario, if you get stuck in snow, straighten the wheels and clear the snow from the wheels. Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some traction. Once on the move again, keep the car moving steadily and slowly and try not to stop until you reach firmer ground.