Some Helpful Winter Driving Tips

Before You Go:

A winter accident could leave you stuck on the side of the road. Packing your
car with a few essentials will help you keep safe and prepared for whatever
conditions might pop up on your trip.

  • Keep your fuel tank at least half full as this will reduce condensation,
    making your vehicle easier to start on cold mornings.
  • Make sure that you are wearing warm clothing / jacket / gloves when you
    are setting off on a trip.
  • If you have a cell phone, make sure it is charged and bring it with you.
    A car charged phone is also a smart device to keep in the car.
  • Always keep a snow scraper in the vehicle. A first aid kit is also a must-
    have item. It should include all the usual items plus winter extras such as
    flash light, a fresh supply of batteries.
  • For rear wheeled drive vehicles keep some weight in the boot as it will
    create extra traction under the tyres if you do get stuck.
  • Clear off your vehicle each time before you go out for maximum
    visibility.
  • Watch out for snow and ice left on the driveway and roadway after
    cleaning off your own vehicle.

Snow, Ice and Winter Driving:

  • Listen to Radio and Television announcements about Road Conditions
    and Accident “black spots”.
  • Plan your route ahead of time to avoid any roads that become dangerous
    during bad weather.
  • Let someone know your route, so if you become stranded, people will
    know where to look in the event of an accident.
  • Be aware of bridges, overpasses as they are the first to freeze and always
    slow down when reaching them and avoid sudden changes in speed and
    direction.
  • Use gentle impulses while driving: accelerate gently, turn slowly, and
    brake carefully and early. Avoid unexpected movements that could put you in a spin by leaving ample room between you and the next car.
    Anticipate turns, stops and lane changes well before they occur.
  • Conversely don’t go too slow. The car will need momentum to be able to
    push through heavier snow.
  • Steer clear of trucks. They are heavier and need considerably longer stopping distances.
  • If you have a 4 or All Wheel Drive, don’t get overconfident. It helps to
    you to get going from a stop quickly, but doe not assist your vehicles
    braking ability. In fact 4WD and AWD are heavier than 2WD vehicles
    and require more braking power to come to a stop.
  • Always keep your lights on while driving.

In the event of an accident:

  • Conditions like snow white outs, which hamper visibility, and “black ice” a
    near invisible layer of ice caused by snow melting and freezing again, make
    winter driving unpredictable and often dangerous. If you find yourself in a
    skid, steer carefully avoid over-reacting to keep control of the vehicle. In the
    event of an accident remain calm and ring for help.
  • Try to get to the right side of the road as far away from traffic as
    possible.
  • Say in your vehicle with your seat belt on. Put the hazard lights on so
    others on the road can see you. Tie a piece of bright cloth to the Arial this
    will also draw attention to your vehicle.
  • If you get stuck in snow, straighten your wheels and accelerate slowly.
    Avoid spinning the tyres and digging yourself in deeper. Rock the vehicle
    back and forth, using its weight and momentum to get out of trouble.
  • If you can’t get going, run the engine only for few minutes at the time to
    stay warm. Avoid Carbon Monoxide poisoning by periodically cracking a
    window. Keep the exhaust pipe free of snow.

Stay off the roads if the weather is too hazardous in your area. Not knowing
how to manoeuvre your vehicle through a winter storm jeopardises you and
your passengers and other drivers. Getting your vehicle ready for winter and
anticipating and avoiding dangerous circumstances will help keep you safely on
the road and in control.