What is driving in the winter like?
In the UK, you’re highly likely to encounter a mix of rain, snow, god, ice and the winter sun when driving in the winter. The frequency of car accident insurance claims per mile is increased by 20% during the winter months. Weather-related vehicle accidents cause more fatalities than large scale weather disasters.
Rain can make road conditions very slippery, making it difficult for tyres to grip the road. A 2016 study shows highways England revealed that you’re 30 times more likely to be fatally or seriously injured on roads when it’s raining or snowing. Hydroplaning may also occur. This happens when tires struggle to handle the water between them and the road, making it difficult to steer.
Tips for driving in the rain
Before you drive, make sure you check your windscreen wipers if they’re not working correctly or in poor condition they should be changed immediately. Driving without functioning windscreen wipers in the rain is extremely dangerous and should not be attempted.
It’s recommended to leave at least a 4-second time gap between you and the car in front.
If your windows are misting up, then you may want to turn your air conditioning and adjust the setting to stop it from happening.
If you start hydroplaning, it’s important not to slam your foot on the brake. Instead slowly take your foot off the accelerator so your tyres can make contact with the road again.
Fog may be fairly common depending on where you’re driving. It usually doesn’t affect road conditions but may affect your visibility.
Tips for driving in fog
Keep your headlights on and reduce your speed to increase the amount of time you have to react. Make sure not to use full-beam headlights as they can reflect off the fog and reduce visibility.
If the fog makes it difficult for you to see oncoming traffic, it may help to roll down your windows and listen for traffic, especially at junctions.
Hailstorms are unpredictable and can happen throughout autumn, winter and summer. They create similar challenges to wet roads but can also damage your car.
In addition to slippery conditions, visibility can be impaired especially during heavy hailstorms where it can be difficult to see a few feet in front of you.
Tips for driving in a hailstorm
If you have no choice but to drive in a hailstorm, then keep at least three car lengths between you and the vehicle in front.
If visibility is severely reduced, it’s highly recommended to pull over and wait for the hailstorm to pass.
Snow and Ice
Driving on snow or ice is extremely dangerous and never a good idea unless you absolutely have to. During winter 48% of all car accidents in the UK are a result of skidding.
Tips for driving in snow and ice
Leave a gap of 20 seconds between you and the car in front during icy conditions to give yourself and other drivers more time to react.
If you drive a manual vehicle, you may find it easier to start in a higher gear so the wheels don’t spin fast.
To minimise skidding make sure you do not hit the accelerator or brake pedal hard to maintain contact with the road.
Traction can improve if you accelerate slowly, especially if there is a lot of snow under your tyres.
Winter sin refers to the sun blinding drivers at peak commuting times due to the time that the sun rises in the morning or sets in the afternoon. Winter sun makes it even more dangerous to drive on roads that are already considered hazardous due to the rain, snow and strong winds.
Tips for driving in the winter sun
Make use of the sun visor, if you need to frequently drive during a low winter sun.
Keep your windshield clean from dust and dirt that accumulates on your glass so you have a clear view of the road in front of you.