In the winter months, when snow or ice is on the ground, and the temperatures fluctuate between sub-zero and just above nought, it’s only natural to feel a few nerves when you get into your vehicle to set off on a road journey.

Adverse weather conditions will always cause problems for drivers, but there are things you can do to mitigate those difficulties by getting your vehicle prepared to take on the cold, wet, snow, and ice.
Here are seven positive steps you can take to do all you reasonably can to stay safe whilst driving in bad weather:

  • Make sure your car is regularly serviced. Many bad weather breakdowns and, dare we say, some road traffic accidents are caused by brakes not functioning in poor weather conditions or the car misting up because the heater blower is faulty. Get the car checked over before the winter weather comes!
  • Tyres, tyres, tyres! The minimum legal tread depth for tyres is 1.6mm. However, in winter, you should aim to have tyres with at least double that tread depth. Deeper treads allow snow and slush to fill the tread; somewhat surprisingly, one of the best things for gripping onto snow is snow! So, the deeper the tread, the better.
  • Lights – do they work? Are they clean from mud and dirt? Before you set off, the answer to our first question needs to be ‘yes’ and to the second, ‘no’.
  • Fill up with fuel before you set off, or at least half-fill it. Cars carrying only a little fuel can be harder to start in cold weather because there’s more room for condensation to form in the tank. Another factor is that getting stuck in long traffic jams caused by bad weather can be fuel-guzzling. There are no worse times to run out of petrol or diesel than in terrible weather!
  • Keep the windscreen and wipers clear and working. Clear your windscreen of ice, frost, snow or dirt before you get underway. Have the vehicles heating on full windscreen (and rear window) mode to help clear the ice or snow from them. Also, check that the windscreen washer is full and has some antifreeze washer in. If the washer’s nozzles are blocked – unblock them with a safety pin if necessary.
  • Try and keep your vehicles as clean as possible. Yes, it’s a pain to keep on top of cleaning your motor in winter. Every time you take a journey, it seems to come back caked in mud or slush. However, the grit used to keep the roads clear contains salt, which can harm your paintwork, so the cleaner you keep the vehicle, the better. In any event, you must keep your lights, windows and number plates clean. It’s one of the few mandatory rules of the Highway Code, and you can get prosecuted if you don’t comply!
  • Ok, this isn’t about your vehicle, but instead, it’s about you. It may sound over dramatic, but whenever you go out in adverse weather, it’s a good idea to keep an emergency kit bag in your car, just in case you get stranded because of snowy conditions. It happens as one woman recently discovered after being stranded on the M25 with her young child for hours, whilst low on fuel and without heating. Fortunately, her ordeal had a happy ending; not all are so fortunate.

What should you put in your bag? Some examples are a torch, blanket, first aid kit, a thermos flask of coffee, water, food, extra warm clothes, an ice scraper and de-icer.

Adverse weather conditions will always cause problems for drivers. We’ve discussed ways to prepare the car for the cold weather to help keep us safe on the roads. We’ve also got to adapt our driving to the conditions too, and;

  1. Allow more time for the journey.
  2. Drive slower (sometimes much slower) than you would normally.
  3. Increase your stopping distance from the vehicle in front to more than it would be in normal conditions.
  4. If there’s snow or ice on the roads, use high gears to reduce the need for sudden acceleration or deceleration.

Many road traffic accidents result from the recklessness of drivers who do not adapt their driving to the weather conditions, and often these drivers, rather than the weather, constitute the real hazard.
You can do nothing about what other drivers do. It’s simply a case of ‘keeping your side of the street clean’ and hoping that other drivers do the same.

If things go wrong and you get injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, contact a specialist firm of personal injury solicitors.
The award-winning Mooneerams Solicitors only handle personal injury claims and do so, in most cases, on a No Win No Fee basis.

Mooneerams have been practising solely in this same area of law for over 20 years and have only ever acted for claimants, that is, those making claims, never for insurance companies.

Call Mooneerams on 029 2048 3615 for advice on making a personal injury claim.