It’s that time of year again. We’re dusting off our woolly hats, digging out the wellies and braving the elements. Although we’d all like to be tucked up in bed with a cup of hot cocoa, there are times when we just can’t avoid taking the car out. UK-based company, Pass Smart, have created a guide to driving safely this winter. From what to keep in your boot, to advice for driving in snow, this guide includes everything you need to know to keep you and the littles ones safe this winter.
Checking your car!
Making sure your car is in tip-top condition is the very first thing to do as winter approaches. If you’re not sure what to look for, ask a family member or friend to have a look for you. You’ll need to check:
Headlights and tail lights are working
All tires (including the spare) are in good condition, with enough tread and pressure
The brakes are working well
The screen-wash bottle is full
Other fluids, such as oil and anti-freeze, are topped up to the correct levels
During the winter months, when adverse weather is on the cards, you should always have an emergency kit in your boot. It’s recommended that you have:
A tow rope
A shovel (you can buy compact, foldable shovels to preserve space)
High visibility vests
First aid kit
De-icer and scraper
Food & drink supplies, such as water (in a flask to prevent it from freezing) and some non-perishable food
You should also make sure that you take supplies for the kids when going out with them in the car. Some cereal bars, baby milk and jars of baby food are a god idea. Unless it’s essential they come with you, however, don’t travel – in particularly bad weather – with the kids in the car.
Plan your journey
Plan your route before you set off. Taking main roads is the safest option, as they’re more likely to have been gritted. If you can avoid treacherous roads, do so, even if it makes your journey longer.
Check local weather and road reports so that you know what to expect, and only drive if absolutely necessary.
It’s a good idea to tell someone what time you expect to reach your destination. Tell them you’ll ring them when you get there, or if you’re visiting someone, give them an estimated time of arrival. Make sure your phone is fully charged, so you can pull over and give them a call if you’re late.
Driving in snow and ice
When driving in snow and ice, making gentle maneuvers is vital. Stopping distance is increased by up to ten times in ice and snow, so drive slowly and don’t do any harsh braking. If your car starts to skid when braking, take your foot off the brake. Continuing to brake will only make the skid worse.
In an automatic vehicle, lock the transmission into 2nd gear, making you less reliant on the brake and limiting your speed.
If you find yourself stuck in the snow, it’s time to get the shovel out! (I bet you thought you’d never use it). Put something – an item of clothing or old floor mat – in front of the front tyres for some grip, and try to pull away. If you’re stuck in a dangerous place, get the kids out of the car and stand well away from the vehicle. Call a recovery truck if you need to.
Most importantly, remember to stay alert, be prepared and avoid driving at all unless absolutely necessary. Keep you and the little ones safe this winter; wrap up, get cosy and enjoy the snow safely!
This guest post was written by Isabelle Guarella from PassSmart.com; the UK-based company helping to get learner drivers on the road.