Winter driving tips

Now that the clocks have gone back and the weather is taking a turn, we’ve got icy conditions on our minds. Driving on icy roads can be incredibly dangerous and we want every person traveling in a Meashams hire vehicle to be safe. 

We’ve put together these winter driving tips to help you, your passengers, and other road drivers stay safe on our roads.

Key car checks

We know the icy conditions are coming, so it’s easy for us to get prepared for them. Get your vehicle serviced (we’ve got you covered if you’re in one of our vehicles) to make sure it’s in top condition. 

Carry out basic tests on your vehicle regularly. These include: 

  • Fuel levels – you use more fuel in the winter
  • Battery – your battery gets a hammering in winter, so make sure it’s in full working order
  • Oil levels
  • Tyre pressure
  • Wheels and wiper blades – look for signs of wear and tear 
  • Screen wash levels
  • Lights – your lights need to be clear to maximise your visibility 

vehicle window wipers iced down with the cold weather

Carry a winter car kit 

It’s always better to be over prepared than under prepared for a winter emergency. Keeping some key things in your vehicle can be invaluable if you get stuck. Gather together items like:

  • Screen wash
  • De-icer
  • Scraper
  • Torch
  • Blanket
  • Bottled water
  • Snacks 
  • Warm clothing
  • Waterproof shoes
Plan your route

When you’re traveling in icy conditions, stick to the main roads where possible. They’ll be regularly cleared to make your journey easier. Try to avoid hilly and rural areas when you can.

Planning your route gives you the time to check out the local news and driving recommendations. You can also look ahead and familiarise yourself with alternative routes if you need to divert. 

Let your family and friends know when and where you’re planning to travel. Keep your phone charged on your journeys, and consider using apps like Waze so your loved ones can keep track of your journey and raise the alarm should the worst happen. 

Winter driving tips

Now that you’re prepared for your journey, you can set off. These winter driving tips will help you stay in complete control when you’re out and about on icy roads. 

car gear stick in a low gear

Use high gears 

Keep in as high a gear as you can while you’re driving and aim to keep your revs low. This will help you reduce the risk of wheel spin.

If you do start to skid, steer gently into it and take your foot off the accelerator. Keep looking forward and keep both hands on the wheel while you regain control of the car. Resist the urge to slam on your brakes as that can make the skid worse. 

Check your speed

You’ve got to moderate your driving speed to the road you’ve got in front of you. If it’s wet, your stopping distances are doubled. In snow and ice, that can be increased to as much as ten times your normal stopping distance. 

Plan your corners 

Make sure you’ve reduced your speed in preparation for the corner ahead. You don’t want to be still slowing down as you turn. But, if your car does lose it grip on the road, don’t panic. You need to take your foot off the accelerator and keep steering in the direction you want to travel in. 

Watch out for the sunlight 

The sunlight is one of the biggest hazards you’ll regularly face during winter driving. The sun sits much lower and can be a big distraction. Keep your sunglasses to hand, your windscreen clear and your visor down when you need it. 

cars stopped at a traffic lights on a rainy evening

Use your lights 

You need to make sure you’re using the right lights for the conditions. Use dipped headlights in the rain so you see and be seen without the risk of dazzling other road users. 

If visibility drops below 100m then you’ll need to use your fog lights. As soon as the visibility increases, remember to turn them off again. 

Think about the climate 

It’s important to be aware of the climate on the road around you and the microclimates that might appear. For example, bridges can be surprisingly dangerous, as they’re some of the first surfaces to ice over and the last to thaw. Even if the rest of the road has warmed up, the sun might not have been able to reach bridges and other parts of the road. 

Leave plenty of time 

Your journeys will likely take longer than normal in icy conditions. Leave yourself spare time for your trips so you won’t be tempted to speed or take risks while you’re driving. 

To sum up 

We’ve given you our basic winter driving tips to help you stay safe as the weather takes a turn for the worst. All our hire vehicles are in excellent condition and will see you safely through your journeys, provided you drive appropriately for the conditions. 

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