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Winter-wise driving

It not only gets bitterly cold in the winter but wet, foggy and icy too. In the same way that you adjust your clothing according to the weather, you should think about tweaking the way you drive and the precautions you take to stay safe on the road. In the first instance, it’s important to choose the right roads, stick to the busier ones and avoid back roads or areas that will be particularly weather beaten. It might seem obvious, but looking ahead is the easiest way to stay safe and in control on winter roads. Don’t just concentrate on the end of your bonnet or the car in front, instead look as far ahead as you can and then work back to the front of your car. Doing this will allow you to prepare your speed and steering well in advance and avoid late, dangerous movements on potentially hazardous road surfaces. In normal dry road conditions, the two-second rule to the car in front should always apply to give you enough braking time, but in wet winter weather this should be exaggerated and doubled to four seconds, and in icy conditions this should be 10 times greater. While extended separation distances are crucial in poor and slippery conditions, it’s not just your grip on the road that can alter in winter, your visibility can be affected too, especially in fog or heavy rain. You’ll see obstacles much later and this impacts on your ability to assess how to respond. The best advice is match your speed to visibility: the less you see, the slower you need to drive.