Seeing snowflakes gently floating in the air on Christmas Day is undoubtedly a sight loved by adults and children alike. But if you are planning to visit friends and family to enjoy some festive cheer together, then it also means having to drive in the snow. So, how do you prepare yourself and your car for a safe journey? Here are some top tips.
Preparing your car
You need to ensure your tyres are in good condition, as controlling a vehicle in snowy conditions is all about have good grip. Although the law requires a minimum of 1.6mm of tread across 75 percent of the width of the tyre, experts generally advice that you should change the tyres when it gets down to a tread of 3mm, if you are going to be driving on icy roads. A spare tyre will also come in handy should anything go wrong.
One of the worst things that can happen when you are out on roads is a flat battery. How old is your battery? If you’ve had it for more than five years, then you really should change it.
If you have a very old car lying around, one that barely works even in good weather, then don’t even think about using it in wintry conditions. You are better off scrapping it with a scrap car buyer like BMS Salvage, who will give you some money for your beat up vehicle and even collect it for free.
Of course, the aim is to get from A to B safely, without any emergencies. But adverse weather almost always wreaks havoc on British roads, so you should be prepared for the possibility of delays and breakdowns.
A blanket and some warm clothes are essential for both yourself and your passengers. As are some food and drink to keep your stomachs full. In terms of equipment – a de-icer, a shovel, some rope, a tyre pump, jump leads and a torch will definitely put you at a good place. An in-car mobile phone charger will ensure you can call the RAC and keep in touch with friends and family.
A final bit of preparation is to plan your route. You might like to take shortcuts normally, but in snowy conditions, you are almost always going to be better off driving on main roads.
Now… the actual driving
Having organised both yourself and your car so well, you are now behind the wheel and about to take off. The best approach when driving in the snow is to go slowly, as snow-covered roads often hides debris and potholes that can damage your tyres. You also want to give yourself more driving distance between your car and the vehicle in front, so you have more time to react to any sudden turn of events.
Accelerating and braking gently is a must, and use the highest gear possible to avoid wheelspin. If your vehicle does start to skid, stay calm and focus on steering it in the right direction. Once your vehicle feels under control, you can use your brakes and throttle again.
Just remember, driving along the busiest sections of main roads will be much safer than small roads that have experienced light traffic, as there will definitely be more snow settled on the latter.
If you find yourself motoring along black ice, make sure you give yourself a 7-8 second gap from the car in front.