Winter makes for dangerous driving conditions and so you will need to know a few techniques to keep you safe. You will also need to think before you even get in the car. If the weather forecast is particularly bad, consider if you even need to make your journey.
Ice on the car first thing is a hassle but it is something that needs to be sorted out properly. Using boiling water is definitely the wrong thing to do because the temperature difference can cause the glass to crack. Don’t scrape ice from your bodywork either as this will cause scratches. Heated windows are OK to use, as is a proper ice scraper if it is only used on the windows. If you want to prevent the build up of ice in the fist place, either keep your car in a garage or buy a special cover. When purchasing a car cover, make sure that the seams are on the outside to avoid scratches and only put it on a clean, dry car, keeping cover and straps away from hot exhausts.
For winter journeys, it is a good idea to pack a first aid kit, shovel,blanket, small bag of sand (for traction), torch, warm clothing, wellies, high visibility jacket, gloves, hat, warning triangle and emergency food and drink in the car just in case. Also take a fully charged mobile phone with you so that you can ring for help easily if you run into trouble.
Do not set out in your car until all snow has been removed and your windows are free of ice. Many motorists fell foul of the law last year when they were stopped for still having snow on the roof of their car whilst they were moving – if there is a need for sudden braking the snow will fall on the windscreen, stopping you from seeing clearly which is obviously dangerous. Not removing the snow can net you 3 points on your license and a 60 fine. Remove snow carefully though because it will have muck in it than can scratch the paintwork if taken off too forcefully.
Winter roads are more dangerous because of ice – both visible and ‘black ice’. In the unfortunate event of skidding on it, remove your feet from the accelerator and brakes and steer into the direction of the skid. When you have proper traction back, then steer the way you want to go. To practice this technique in a safe environment you can contact a skid pan.
Also look out for freezing fog. Slow down, keep back from the car in front, and turn on fog lights when necessary. It helps to turn off the radio and wind down a window to listen out for other vehicles.
Winter is the time when driving conditions are at their most dangerous but with forward planning and safe driving, both you and you vehicle should make it through the season in one piece.