Driving in Bad Weather
These are my thoughts on driving in different weather conditions.
It covers a number of different conditions and problems, and some ideas on how to prepare and cope with those conditions.
I have discussed an number of driving conditions, which you can read on the following pages:
Driving in Bright Sunshine
Driving in Heavy Rain
Driving in Fog
Driving In Snow
Above all, in bad conditions ask the question:
"Is your journey is really necessary?"
Adjust your driving style to the conditions – be sensible in the
rain, snow and ice.
If you decide that your journey really is necessary, tell someone where you are going, and which route you plan to use. It would be considerate to keep your family informed by text (whilst parked, of course), of your progress, and any changes to your route.
Always carry a survival pack in the car, including food, water
and a blanket. This should include:
A hazard warning triangle
First aid kit (in good order)
A working torch
Sleeping bag or rug
Ensure your phone battery is fully charged and you have an
in-car charger. Also make sure you have got any phone numbers that you may need,
this could your break-down service, and the people you are travelling to and
Put a shovel in your boot – in case you need to dig yourself out
of trouble. You can get light-weight foldable/ collapsible shovels in petrol
stations or car accessory shops. Make sure that it won’t collapse too easily!
I read an article which suggested ignoring the old idea of
taking a blanket, chocolate and some water, in-case you get stuck in bad
Nowadays we could carry: warm clothing, a sleeping bag each, a
large thermos full of hot water, teabags, coffee, sugar etc. A wind-up radio to
listen to road reports without flattening the car’s battery, a 12volt kettle for
heating up more water (or snow), as well as the goodies listed above. You can
also buy self-heating tins of food, and boil-in-the-bag meals. I cannot vouch
for their taste, but I can definitely appreciate their calories, heat, and
morale-boosting properties. They are all pre-cooked before sealing, and have a
shelf-live of a number of years. You can eat them without heating them, but warm
food is always better than cold food in these conditions.
Tyres. You need as much grip as possible when driving in snow, puddles or ice. The legal minimum tread allowed on a tyre is “1.6mm of tread depth across the central three quarters of the tyre, around the whole tyre, on all the tyres including any spares.” To me, 1.6mm seems very little, so I will be considering new tyres when my tread reaches 3mm.
Make sure there is no damage to the tyre or wheel, on the grip area, as well as both sidewalls of the tyre. Tyres are designed to grip best, and give a safe amount of cushioning, with a specified amount of ‘air’ in the tyre, and between a limited range of temperatures. Higher or lower pressure than recommended will reduce grip and increase tyre wear.
Consider fitting winter tyres, but even if you don’t, have your summer tyres checked. Winter driving means that tyres should have no less than 3mm remaining tread, so that more water can be moved by the tread.
Get your car battery checked. You will be using a lot of electrical systems in the car in bad weather. This will drain the battery more than normal. Make sure that your battery is being recharged, and holding that charge, in cold weather. If you are only making short journeys, with many electrical devices switched on, it is worth considering doing a long journey
once a week, to recharge the battery properly. Either that, or consider buying a battery charger, and charging the battery at the weekend, or whenever you won’t be using the car for a while. There is nothing more frustrating on a cold day than to get to your car, and find that the battery does not have enough charge to start the engine!
Freezing windscreens. If your windscreen is frozen over, don’t use hot water to clear it, as this could crack the glass.
Make sure your windscreen washer fluid is topped up with a suitable concentration of screen-wash. Windscreens get very dirty very fast in the winter months and screen-wash will help prevent the liquid from freezing. Buying ready-mixed screen-wash is convenient, but it does not allow you the flexibility of adding more concentrate into the screen-wash bottle to allow for colder conditions.
Have your engine coolant checked before the bad weather starts. – the antifreeze needs to protect your engine against the lowest of temperatures, including the“wind-chill factor”.
Lights need to be clean and working. You need to see and be seen from a good distance so that other road users can react to you safely, without ending up skidding.