Winter driving is a skill. Wet weather, snow or ice can make your car feel unstable. You may find it tricky to keep your car under control. But fortunately, winter driving is a skill that can be easily learned. What it’s all about is car control and a smooth driving style. That way you can reduce the chance your car will lose traction with the road.
Here’s a couple of top tips that will help you on your way to tackle even the most horrendous weather conditions.
Braking in wintery weather
Gentle braking is key in wintry weather, that way it will be easier to keep your car under control. Anti-lock brakes will go a long way in preventing the brakes from locking up but will do little once the car skids sideways. Just remember, braking hard for no reason is one of the worst things you can do in these winter months.
A better option is to slow down and to anticipate other driver’s behaviour. In other words, learn to read the road so you can react quickly and appropriately.
If you are concerned about your brakes and if they are still in good condition, have them checked and get a brake pad or disk replacement for maximum safety.
Steering on slippery and icy roads
Steering in winter is all about doing it smoothly. Reduce your speed when approaching corners and gently steer through a corner. This will enable the tyres to do their job of gripping the road much better.
Remember, if the car does start to slide it will be hard to regain control. You can recover your car whilst it slides sideways, but it will take a lot of skill and practice to master this. As you’re probably not quite Lewis Hamilton just yet, the best cure, again, is prevention. Just direct your car smoothly and neatly around those bends.
Changing gear smoothly will help keep your car in check. If you have a manual gearbox then make sure to cut your use of the first gear down to a minimum. That way you’ll make it less likely that your wheels will spin through on a slippery road surface. Speed up with care and try to use the higher gears to improve traction and to stay safe.
Make sure you wear clothes suitable for winter weather. If your hands get cold, wear gloves that grip well onto the steering wheel to maximise control. Also, consider wearing a pair of driving shoes instead of clunky boots which can make you lose the feeling for gentle braking and accelerating. What you want to prevent is your shoes slipping on the pedals.
Remove your thick winter jacket before you get behind the wheel. Wearing a thick coat or jacket will keep you warm but will also impact how securely your seat belt is tightened. Studies and tests have shown that in accidents a seat belt worn over a padded jacket can cause additional injuries.
Having taken all this into account bear in mind that driving in snow or heavy rain can still be pretty dangerous. And in many ways, it is probably just best to not drive at all. A good rule is to only use your car if you really need to. And if you don’t really need to go somewhere, consider using public transport or stay at home.
Of course, if you are in a rural area and do really need to use your car to get to places then make sure you’re prepared well. We would always recommend doing an advanced driving course if you are in any doubt. Read our winter survival guide to make sure your car is ready to survive winter!