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snow

Driving in bad weather

Many collisions are caused by people not braking in time when roads are wet or slippery. If it’s foggy, raining, snowing or icy keep your speed down and keep well back from the vehicle in front of you. Check your tyres and change then when they reach 3mm tread depth rather than the legal minimum of 1.6mm.

The 2 second gap increases to 4 seconds in the wet and 20 second on ice.

  • When roads are slippery it will take longer to stop. Up to 10 times longer if it is icy
  • Reduce your speed and give yourself more time to slow down and stop.
  • Drive with care even if roads have been gritted.
  • Be gentle with the controls. No harsh braking, accleration or steering.
  • On snow and ice, drive in the highest gear possible without the engine struggling.

If your car skids

  • Avoid braking
  • Depress the clutch
  • Steer in the direction of the skid
  • When the car straightens up, steer along the road.
Driving in rain
  • When the road’s wet, it can take up to twice as long to stop so it makes sense to slow down when it’s raining.
  • If your vehicle loses its grip, or “aquaplanes”, on surface water take your foot off the accelerator to slow down. Don’t brake or steer suddenly because you have no control of the steering or brakes.
Driving in strong winds
  • In very windy weather take extra care on the roads and plan your journeys by checking the latest weather conditions.
  • High-sided vehicles are particularly affected by windy weather but strong gusts can blow a vehicle, cyclist, motorcyclist, or horse rider off course. This can happen on open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds, or when passing bridges and high-sided vehicles.
Driving during floods
  • If you can avoid it, it’s best not to drive through lying surface water as you might flood your engine. The deepest water is usually nearest the kerb.
  • If you do have to drive through flooded roads, use first gear. Move forward immediately to avoid stalling the engine. Keep your revs high and depress your clutch when you need to.
  • Test your brakes after passing through the water.
Driving in fog
  • Use dipped headlights so other drivers can see you.
  • If it’s really foggy (less than 100m visibility) and you can’t see much, then switch your fog lights on. Switch them off once conditions have improved so they don’t dazzle drivers behind you. 
  • Fog is often patchy so do not speed up as visibility improves. You could suddenly find yourself back in thick fog.
Driving on ice and snow
  • Clear snow from the roof of the vehicle before you drive off. It can slip down over the windscreen and block your view.
  • If your tyres are making virtually no noise this could be a sign you’re driving on ice.
  • Use all the main controls smoothly.
  • If your vehicle skids depress the clutch and turn the steering wheel into the direction of the skid. When the vehicle straightens steer along the road. Don’t brake – it will just lock up your wheels and you’ll skid further.

Watch out for gritters in winter. They’ll indicate they are spreading salt by flashing amber beacons and will drive at less than 40mph. Don’t overtake these vehicles unless it is safe. It’s best to stay well back because salt is thrown across the road.

Be vigilant near snow ploughs. Flashing amber beacons mean they are likely to be clearing snow. Don’t overtake unless the lane you want to use has been cleared.

The IAM has a useful guide to winter driving here.

Atom driving lessons are safe and fun. You get real value for money in a relaxed, encouraging environment. Reach me on my mobile 07722 037709, phone 01536 502436 or email.

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