We are experiencing more and more extreme weather conditions in the UK and these incidents can occur sometimes without any notice. Throughout the course of the year these can include snow blizzards, torrential downpours, freak storms and scorching heat waves, all of which can affect your performance on the road.
Driving in all seasons
Whatever the weather, it is a good idea to get into the habit of doing a pre-journey check on your car, especially before long journeys. You should check the following:
- All of the lights work on the vehicle
- Your windscreen wipers are fully functioning
- Your battery is fully charged (check dashboard battery light)
- Your tyre pressures are correct for your vehicle and the tread depth is above the legal limit
- Your number plate is clearly visible
- Your mirrors are clean and are positioned correctly for your needs
- Your spare wheel is in optimum condition and you have the correct tools to replace the wheel if necessary
- You have enough fuel for your planned journey
- Water and oil levels are correct.
It is also a good idea to carry a mobile phone, torch, food and drink, first aid kit, warm clothes, a blanket and a set of jump leads, at all times. You should also keep your driving license, car insurance and breakdown documents close to hand, along with any other emergency numbers you may need.
If you are travelling alone, let someone know where you are going and the time you expect to arrive.
Flash flooding and freezing temperatures are becoming more common, so it’s a good idea to be prepared. The following tips can help you deal with adverse weather conditions associated with the cold temperatures.
- Check your heating system to ensure you can demist the windows if necessary
- Clear your windows, lights and number plates. It is also advisable to pack a de-icer and a scraper in your car at all times
- Ice, snow, mist and rain demand that you drive more slowly and carefully. If you know that bad weather is expected, plan ahead and extend your journey time
- If visibility is low, use your rear fog lights and reduce your speed
- According to the Highways Agency, stopping distances can be up to 10 times as far in very wet or icy conditions, so keep your distance from the car in front
- Higher, more exposed areas such as bridges and overpasses will be affected by snow and ice more quickly than other surfaces. Plan your journey to avoid these areas if possible
- Avoid making unnecessary changes of lane on dual carriageways and motorways. Speeding up in icy or very wet conditions could cause you to swerve
- Be particularly careful around motorcyclists and cyclists on windy days. Large vehicles can waver, so take extra care when passing them
Driving in summer
These useful tips can help you stay safe and comfortable on the roads during summer:
- Ensure your vehicle is well ventilated. Air conditioning is ideal to help avoid overheating and drowsiness
- Your vehicle can also overheat, so check your water levels and radiator
- Soft roads (tarmac can melt in very high heat) can affect your steering and braking. Make allowances to ensure you have adequate stopping and journey time
- Driving at peak times, such as school or bank holidays, means you could encounter more traffic jams. Turn off your engine if you come to a halt and make sure you have plenty of water.
- Cover leather or plastic seats to stop them getting hot. Where possible park in the shade so you don’t step into an oven when you get back
- Visibility on the road is vital to safe driving. Invest in a pair of good sunglasses to counteract the ‘blinding’ from bright sunshine
- Clean windows and mirrors. Intense sunlight can form glare on smudges which can ultimately reduce your visibility