My winter driving safety tips

Driving in icy conditions

I seem to spend my morning school runs discussing driving safety tips with my youngest who does her theory test next week.   How that is even possible when I am still only 27 I really don’t know.    What I would like to scream is “You are never driving on your own in the winter.  Or after 5pm.   Or in fact in the summer” but I know that is a bit impractical and a waste of the thick end of a thousand Pounds in driving lessons.    So imparting top tips is my new thrilling way to spend half an hour in the morning.

What would you top tips be?  LV= insurance have asked me to share mine as part of their #CarCareClub campaign but I am keen to hear yours too.   In no particular order my top tips are as follows:

  • Start any journey by making sure you can see!  Don’t just scrape the ice off a 6″ square on the windscreen.   Scrape all of it off on every window so you can really see all around you.
  • Check your tyres.   This should go without saying really.   Before every journey you should check your tyres.  Safe to say tyres that are worn will neither grip the road very well or be very effective when you brake.
  • Slow down.  It always amazes me how fast some people drive when they have had to scrape ice off their cars ten minutes before   A lot of my early morning driving is on country roads that are relatively quiet so not only could there be a patch of ice around that next corner, there could a spun car in the road.   If people slowed down then their cars would be more easy to control if something were to happen.
  • If you start skidding, take your foot off the accelerator!  – Reflexes kick in as your car starts to slide so you might need to remind yourself to take your foot off the pedal.    If you carry on accelerating the car will spin out of control and there will be little you can do.
  • Steer into the skid.  This sounds like a bonkers piece of advice but I clearly remember my mum telling me this as I learned to drive (this and that as you drive round a bend  -“you should brake into it and drive out of it” — ie don’t be driving so fast that you are still braking as you go round the bend).
  • Avoid having to pull away on a hill.  Stop at the bottom if you can and have a clear run up it so you don’t need to pull away from a standing stop half way up.   You also won’t be in line to be bumped if the car in front starts to roll backwards.
  • You should use a high gear, move away whilst in second gear and you will have more grip on snow.    I drive an automatic so this doesn’t work for me but I have driven many hire cars on ski trips and this always works.
  • Lastly, please clear the snow off the roof of your car before you drive off in the morning.   I get really grumpy when I see cars that cleared snow from the windows but nowhere else.  Where is that snow that is melting on the roof of your car going to slide?  Yep either on to your windscreen, or fly off in a lump and hit mine behind you.

I’m off to drive on a skid pan in the next few months as part of this campaign and I am rather excited.  I have never done that before, have you?  Maybe my top tips will change after that!

PS did you know that on average 10th February is the snowiest day in the UK?

image of snowy road courtesy of Shutterstock

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  • I’d add – drive reasonably slowly when you start from cold. This enables you to have a warm engine if you hit early trouble.
    Being able to change down – even in an automatic! – can often give you better control than braking will.
    – if the idiot behind you is tailgating just ease off and let him go. Make a mental note of the number so you’ll recognise the back end sticking out of the hedge round the next corner.
    – take a few empty sacks, a shovel and flask of brandy in case of real trouble. The brandy is for the police when they eventually arrive.