Winter may be coming to an end, but the cold weather is likely here to stay, so we recommend that you plan ahead. Previously, we’ve provided some driving tips for winter to help keep you safe on the roads. However, it’s important that your vehicle is also well-prepared as breakdowns and accidents are more common in the winter months.
Key risks of winter driving
- Snow and ice Snowy and icy weather pose additional challenges for drivers and can be very dangerous, particularly if your vehicle breaks down. The chances of skidding are much greater and so your stopping distance will increase significantly. In order to stay safe when driving in snow or ice, you should reduce your speed, avoid harsh braking and accelerating and limit sharp steering. If you find yourself stuck in the snow then the ROSPA recommend that you slowly move your vehicle backwards and forwards out of the rut using the highest gear possible.
- Hail During the colder weather, you may have to contend with hailstorms. Not only can this cause damage to your vehicle but can make driving precarious as it can be difficult to see the road ahead and other vehicles around you. Unless you absolutely have to make a journey, it’s best to avoid driving in these conditions, so that you can remain safe.
- Darkness A lack of light can be dangerous for drivers because visibility can become significantly impaired which can make it hard to judge distances and speeds. In addition, oncoming headlights can dazzle your vision, posing an extra challenge for those driving in the dark winter months.
- Cold temperatures The lower temperatures that we often experience during this time of year can do damage to our vehicles. It’s more likely that your vehicle will have tyre pressure problems, fluid level issues during the winter months, making it essential for you to regularly get your vehicle serviced.
Winter safety checklist for your car
By having the correct equipment in your car, you can navigate the roads safely. We have compiled this winter checklist which includes key items that we recommend that you keep in your vehicle to keep.
- Ice-scraper and de-icer It’s important to ensure that your windows are clear of ice, snow, and condensation before you set off on a journey. This will prevent you from receiving a fine and allow you to clearly see the road ahead. An ice-scraper and de-icer are the most efficient tools for clearing the ice off your vehicle and most drivers use them frequently in winter.
- Torch and spare batteries Having a torch and spare batteries can be invaluable if you need assistance in the dark weather. Without any light, breakdowns can be very frightening and dangerous, a large torch with spare batteries would therefore be useful as you’ll be able to see in the dark and signal for help.
- Sunglasses In winter, the angle of the sun in the sky is frequently too low for your visor to help and this can dazzle drivers and cause glare. By keeping a pair of sunglasses in your vehicle you can make sure that your vision isn’t affected by the low winter sun.
- First aid kit It’s good practice to have a first aid kit in your vehicle at any time of the year so that you can handle any minor injuries that might occur whilst on the road. A small first aid kit should include nitrile powder-free gloves, sterile cleansing wipes, waterproof plasters, dressings, and scissors.
- Empty fuel can It’s important to be prepared because you never know when your vehicle might run out of fuel. Having an empty fuel can in your vehicle is essential in this situation as you can retrieve fuel from the nearest petrol station, allowing you to get back on the move. If you have one of our fuel cards, then you don’t need to have the additional stress of remembering to keep the receipt from your purchase.
- Food and drink During the winter months, it’s common to be delayed in traffic because of snow, rain, or a bad-weather collision. In these scenarios, it would be useful to have snacks in your vehicle in case you face a long wait. Breakdowns are sometimes unavoidable and if you have a flask with a hot drink in your vehicle then you can stay warm until help arrives.
- Warm clothes and waterproofs If your vehicle breaks down on the road then it can be dangerous to remain in your car. Having extra clothes and waterproofs will allow you to remain warm and dry when faced with harsh winter elements.
- High-visibility jacket As there are fewer daylight hours in winter, it’s critical that you can be seen by other motorists if you need to leave your vehicle in the dark. A high-visibility jacket could therefore be life-saving and so should definitely be regarded as one of the most important items on this checklist.
- Shovel Snow piles and mud puddles can be treacherous for drivers and it’s easy for a vehicle’s wheels to get stuck. Having a shovel in your vehicle means that you can literally dig yourself out of this situation. Using a shovel, you’ll be able to dig out from around a tyre that’s spinning or add fresh snow to improve your tyre’s grip.
- Mobile phone and power bank We recommend that you always keep a fully charged mobile phone and power bank in your vehicle so that you can let friends and family know if your journey is delayed because of bad weather. This will also be essential if you need to call for help in an emergency. If you break down somewhere with no phone signal, then you’ll need to locate the nearest emergency phone.
These items will be incredibly useful in the case of a breakdown or emergency and some can even be life-saving. By following this checklist, you can relax knowing that you’re prepared for the winter weather. Although we recommend these items, there may be others that you might wish to keep in your vehicle. To avoid breakdowns in winter, we recommend that your vehicle is regularly serviced to ensure that it remains in good working condition.
David JamesDavid has worked in the fuel card industry since 2008. His financial insights have been featured in various publications, such as The Sun, the Daily Express and The Yorkshire Times where he provides money-saving tips for motorists. David is passionate about charity work and regularly raises money through running events, including the London Marathon and the Leeds Abbey Dash.