Winter driving – whats the worst that can happen?

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One of the best tips for driving in severe winter conditions is…to avoid it! But we all know that’s easier said than done. Snow and ice need to be taken s­eriously. This winter, make sure your car is prepared for the elements. Learning what it takes to drive safely in winter conditions and going the extra mile by getting your vehicle ready for winter could save your life.

How to prepare your vehicle before you set off…

Take your car to a mechanic to check the tyre pressure, battery, antifreeze level, wipers and wiper fluid, thermostat, heater, breaks & defroster. Also check that your tyres have adequate threads. It is fair to say that we have had increasingly severe snow and ice over the past few years and if you are not confident driving in these conditions you could consider investing in snow tyres. These tyres have threads that provide better traction and are equipped to handle extreme winter driving conditions.

Packing your car for winter trips…

Pack your car with a few winter essentials as a winter accident could leave you stuck on the side of the road. This will help keep you safe and comfortable should you have to wait for assistance.

–  Useful items would be a snow/ice scraper and a shovel, de-icer, jump leads, tow-rope, first aid kit, high visibility vest, flashlight & back up batteries, warm clothes/blankets, matches, bottled water and non-perishable snacks.

–  Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and bring it with you. Ideally you should keep a car charger in your glove box.

–  Keep your fuel tank at least half full throughout the winter. This will reduce condensation, making your vehicle easier to start on cold mornings.

–  Clear off your car each time you go out for maximum visibility, including your head and taillights. This will help to avoid an accident due to poor outward visibility.

–  A small bag of sand is a must if your vehicle is a rear-wheel drive. If you get stuck this can be used to create traction under the tyres.

Driving safely on icy roads…

Before you go, listen to the radio for announcements about accidents, road closings, and road advisories. Fore-warned is forearmed! If you are visiting friends or family make sure to let them know what time to expect you at.

–  Use gentle impulses while driving: accelerate gently, turn slowly, and brake carefully and early.

–  Leave at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you. Avoid severe movements that could put you in a spin.

–  Turn on your lights and keep them clean to increase your visibility to other motorists. See & be seen, “Light = Life”.

–  Be especially careful on bridges, fast lanes and less frequently travelled roads.

–  Move into a lower gear when going downhill or going around bends.

–  Be wary of roads that look polished or glossy, as it could be black ice.

Worse case scenario…

Be sure to keep details of your Motor Breakdown Assistance in your vehicle at all times. If your motor insurance policy does not have this benefit it is best to have someone on stand-by in these “unpredictable” driving conditions.  Try to get your vehicle to a safe place and turn on your hazard lights. Contact relevant services and wait in a safe place until someone comes to the rescue!

If you would like a quotation, please call us on 049-4332944, e-mail or complete our online enquiry form.

Disclaimer: The material contained is this article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute professional advice.

James Martin
James Martin
James Martin has 16 years of experience as a general insurance broker. He is a member of the Chartered Insurance Institute and has completed a Diploma in Corporate Finance.

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