Driving in winter: Staying safe in adverse weather conditions

Winter driving can present challenges to even the most seasoned driver. We understand how important it is for you to feel safe when on the roads. That’s why we’ve put together some top tips on driving safely in the winter, no matter the weather.

Highways England operate, maintain and improve England’s motorways and major A-roads. Highways England Head of Road Safety, Jeremy Phillips said: “Gritters will be out treating our roads around the clock when ice or snow is forecast, but it is still important to drive to the conditions. Keep your distance and reduce your speed, because even in conditions that seem normal and where the snow is not settling, it can be slippery if ice patches have formed, or where fresh grit has not been worked into the carriageway.

Drivers should plan their journeys, monitor weather reports and pack a winter kit of blankets, food, water and a shovel.”

Driving in any adverse weather conditions can mean poor visibility and an increased risk of skidding, meaning that it’s important to be vigilant at all times to remain safe when on the road during a downpour, snowfall or on icy roads.

Keep your distance
Wet or slippery weather means that tyres can lose traction on the road and skid more easily. Keeping a larger distance between you and the car in front of you can help you to avoid a collision if you do skid when braking. Aim to leave at least double the space that you normally would between your car and the next. In wet or icy weather, cars can skid for longer and it’s more likely that you could hit the car in front of you.

Always keep your lights on
Good visibility is crucial in any weather. But it can be harder to see in the rain or snow. Having your lights on, even during the day, allows you to see better and avoid some dangerous situations when you are driving.

Slow down
Driving at high speeds can increase the risk of mistakes occurring on the road. Combining high speeds with adverse weather conditions can cause further risk. If it’s raining, snowy or there is ice on the road, try slowing down to allow yourself more decision-making time should something unexpected happen.

Use higher gears to avoid skidding
If your steering starts to feel lighter suddenly or your tyres start making less noise, you may be driving on ice. It is important not to be heavy on the accelerator, which can cause skidding. Instead, put your car in a high gear and drive slowly to avoid your wheels spinning from using high acceleration. This will allow your car to drive smoothly over the ice.

TOP TIP: If your car skids when you are driving on wet or icy terrain, steer in the direction that you are skidding. This means that when your wheels regain traction you won’t have to overcorrect to stay on the right path.

When driving in hail, you should always keep your distance, make sure you have good visibility and slow down. Below is a top tip to help protect your vehicle and keep you safe if you are out on the road in hail.

Pull over if you need to
If hail is very severe and falling in large pieces, it can cause damage to your vehicle's body and create cracks or chips in your front and rear windscreen and windows. Driving at speed in this weather can increase the risk of damage. So, if you find yourself stuck in hail and you can pull over somewhere safe, you should do so until it passes.

When driving in fog, it is important to keep safe and drive sensibly at all times. Keep your distance and slow down if necessary. Fog is difficult to drive in because there are low levels of visibility. Here are some of our top tips for keeping safe in foggy conditions.

Use your fog lights
Using your fog lights can significantly help with visibility and with other drivers being able to see you (one of the main things that is affected by fog). Be sure to make yourself aware of where your fog lights are before you go on your journey.
Fog lights should only be used if visibility is below 100 metres.

TOP TIP: Be sure to look and listen. When visibility is low it is important to have your wits about you and to  be more vigilant at all times. Keep your eye out for any hazards on the road. Also, try driving without the radio on or with your windows down. This way, it’ll be easier for you to hear other vehicles on the road that are close to you.

Driving in winter can present different challenges to some of us, so it’s important to be sure to:

Stay alert at all times

Accelerate and decelerate slowly

Slow down before a turn or bend

Avoid stopping too quickly

Avoid driving in cruise control

Following this simple advice can help you to keep safe on the roads throughout the winter. At Allianz Assistance, we have a range of car products that can help you to protect yourself and your car when you are out on the roads. Click here to browse through our products today.