Driving safely in icy conditions can sometimes be more dangerous than trying to drive safely in snow, and yet many people simply do not see the dangers, and will not adapt their driving to compensate for the ice. However, the ice is extremely dangerous, and driving safely in icy conditions should be a driver’s number one priority. Many accidents are caused because of people not realising how to stay safe. Below are a few tips to help you when you find yourself driving in adverse conditions.
Make sure you and your car are prepared.
One of the most important things you can do is make sure that you are prepared for the weather conditions you will be travelling in. Decide if the journey is necessary, before you set off, particularly if you know the weather is meant to worsen. If it can wait, leave it until the bad weather clears.
If the journey is necessary, ensure that you have a basic survival kit with you in the car, in case you find you break down, or you get stuck if the weather gets worse as you are out. This should include a fully charged mobile phone, along with a charger cable that can be used in the car; a bottle of water; a few non perishable snacks and a warm blanket.
It is also worth letting someone know the route you are planning on taking, along with the time that you set off and your estimated arrival time. Try and keep them updated on your journey, if it is safe to do so, and let them know of any delays and diversions you have had to take.
Remember, your braking distance is significantly increased.
Try and look far ahead at all times, to avoid any sudden braking. Not only is this more likely to cause you to lose control, but your braking distance is so significantly increased that you should leave ten times the normal distance between you and the car in front, as your tyres will have far less grip on the road in cold conditions; so, even if temperature is above zero, you should still take extra care.
If conditions are bad, and you know that they are meant to last, consider getting winter tyres fitted on your car. These really are a great investment if you live somewhere that it does get particularly icy, and will significantly increase the performance.
Know how to drive safely on icy roads.
If you do have to venture out on the roads in icy conditions, make sure that you stay alert and keep your driving as smooth as possible particularly when it comes to changing gear and braking. To do this, you will need to look way ahead of you to spot any potential hazards. Driving safely in icy conditions includes being vigilant for any obvious patches of ice.
In order to aid grip on the road, particularly when you are pulling off from an area, try and use a higher gear than you normally would. If you drive an automatic car, many will allow you to select a gear start in. The most important thing to remember when driving in icy conditions though is not to speed. Take your time, and ensure you have left enough time for your journey so you are not rushing.
Know how to identify black ice and what to do if you spot some.
When people are driving in icy conditions, one of the most common causes for people to lose control of their cars is if they hit a spot of black ice. This is a very thin layer of ice on the surface of the road. The problem with black ice is that it is incredibly smooth, and often looks like the same colour of the road, which makes it very difficult to see.
One of the easiest ways to spot black ice is if the surface of the road looks like it might be wet. Also, keep an eye out for cars in the distance swerving for no obvious reason, as this might indicate that they have hit a patch of black ice.
If you are unable to spot it until it is too late, the important thing to remember is not to panic. Remain calm, and keep driving, maintaining your speed. Keep hold of the steering wheel with both hands. Do not be tempted to hit the brakes as this will cause you to lose control.
Know how to drive in hail.
Hail can be incredibly treacherous to drive in and can cause both damage to you and your car; therefore, it is important to know what to do if you get stuck in a hail storm. Depending on the severity, hail can not only impair visibility, but can also break windows in extreme conditions. If you think that the hail is getting too severe to drive in, try if you can, to pull into a covered area. If you can’t, avoid injury to yourself by staying inside of your car.
If you find yourself in a hail storm, try and keep your car angled so that the hail is hitting the front of the car. This is because the windscreen has been specifically designed to withstand forward driving and pelting objects. The rest of your windows, including your rear window have not, and will break more easily.
We hope these tips for driving safely in icy conditions are helpful to our readers. Need an up-to-date forecast before you set out? http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/