Safe tips for driving this winter

If you’ve got a long drive ahead this winter then buckle up, we’ve got ten top safety tips for you to consider when hiring and driving a car in tricky conditions.

When you’ve got places to be and people to see it’s easy to hop into your ride with gusto, until you reach a turning point and realise you haven’t planned a route and your phone battery has died. We don’t want your festivities ruined by lack of preparation, so here are five practical steps to take before you even embark on a long distance journey.

Planning ahead:

1. Always check the weather forecast first; if it’s looking particularly bad then delay your trip until it’s cleared up. Weather updates can also let you know how you should be driving, for example, by avoiding use of the parking brake in cold weather.

2. Plan your route before you get going. Whether this is on your phone, map or sat nav, always plan out the journey before you set off.

3. Charge up your mobile phone, or take your charger with you. If you’re using your phone for navigation the battery will be used up quickly - you might need it in an emergency.

4. Remember the two important Ts: tank and tyres. It’s vital to make sure you have at least half a tank full of petrol before you set off on a long distance journey. This one may seem obvious but it can be easy to overlook when you’re excited to get going. Check your tyre pressure, and make sure they are fully inflated and meet the minimum tread limit. While you’re checking the mechanics, make sure all of your lights work - you don’t want to get on the road only to realise your fog lights are broken.

5. Lastly, make sure the car you’re driving has a fully stocked emergency kit.

Come rain or snow you may be determined to get to your destination on time, especially if it’s to spend time with friends and family you haven’t seen in a while. So once you’ve got through the route planning and other checks, it’s time to start thinking about hitting the road in what could be quite challenging weather.

Five tips for driving in difficult conditions:

1. Make sure the windscreen is clean and that your wipers are working properly. Even if you’re strapped for time, starting a journey with a dirty windscreen is never a good idea. Some reach for the kettle to melt any ice on windows. This is a big no-no, especially if you’ve hired a car. The heat can crack the windows, and no one wants a hefty repair bill at Christmas. There are quick tricks you can do to demist a windscreen extra fast and this involves using the air con and heating in your car properly. Heating will condense on the windows causing mist; using air con at the same time will help keep the air dry.

2. Get clued up on how to drive on wet and slippery surfaces, snails pace is the speed limit you should be aiming for. This includes being weary of breaking distances on snow and ice, and what to do if your car skids.

3. If there’s a relentless snowstorm, or you’ve got a problem with the car, pull over somewhere safe, but remember to check that your exhaust pipe is not blocked with snow. If your exhaust is blocked then when you’re heating the car, carbon monoxide could get into the vehicle, which can be potentially lethal.

4. If bridges or overpasses can’t be avoided then drive extra cautiously as these roads are often the iciest.

5. Fog is one of the most dangerous weather conditions to drive in. Make sure your fog lights work, drive slowly and never use your high beam lights. Rolling down the window can help you listen for oncoming cars.

The chances are you’re travelling with precious cargo this winter, so make sure everyone is properly strapped in before you hit the road. Once you’ve checked off our helpful tips you’ll be a lot more prepared for a safe car journey.