4 essential winter driving tips for new drivers
If you’re a new driver, the British winter brings a whole range of hazards that you may be experiencing for the first time after your test.
In the run up to Christmas, when roads are busier, the nights get dark, and icy conditions are more common, you’re statistically more likely to get into an accident than at any other time of the year. In fact, research has shown that the 5 December is the most dangerous day for motorists (Co-Op Insurance), as more accidents occur than on any other day.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the essential winter driving tips that you need to know as a new driver. Read on to find out more.
Consider switching to winter tyres
Winter tyres are designed to offer more traction and grip when the weather takes a turn for the worst. You should seriously consider winter tyres if you live in the country, or any other area where road conditions can get particularly treacherous.
Though driving on winter tyres is the best way to deal with icy conditions, they can be costly to buy and install, which puts many new drivers off. You can save money by purchasing the tyres and fitting them yourself, which is a life skill worth learning — take a look at Lookers’ guide to changing a tyre to learn how. Alternatively, there are lower cost snow chains and snow socks you can fit to provide an additional level of grip too.
Adjust your driving style
As you are a recently qualified driver, you’re probably already cautious when on the road, but winter driving requires a whole new level of care and attention. Firstly, braking distance on icy roads increases tenfold compared to braking in regular conditions, according to the RAC, so it’s essential that you leave a much larger gap between you and the next car. You’ll need to be even more vigilant for potential hazards too, so keep your eyes peeled.
Take care to operate your car smoothly to reduce your chances of skidding on the ice. If you do, be sure to steer gently into the direction your car is moving and don’t let go of the wheel or apply the car’s brakes heavily.
Prepare for driving on country roads
If you live in the country or need to head out of your town or city, you’ll find that rural roads receive a lot less maintenance attention than those in urban areas, so following the advice in the point above is very important. However, you also need to prepare for the worst in case you do have an accident, as help or roadside assistance will take longer to reach you. Always check the weather forecast before you head out and, if the outlook is grim, reconsider whether this journey is really necessary.
You also need to make sure you have the right kit for country driving in winter. Items like extra de-icer, ice scrapers, a first aid kit, and a fully-charged mobile phone are essential if you find yourself in an emergency, so pack them all into your boot before you head out. Motoring specialists Halfords have a full gear checklist that is worth looking over to see if you’ve missed anything.
Carry out regular safety checks
Though you will have covered carrying out regular safety checks while learning to drive, it’s very important that you carry them out through the winter when the risks of suffering an accident are greater. Plus, if you do experience a mechanical breakdown, the weather can often make the wait time for assistance longer than usual, so it’s wise to be proactive instead.
The AA recommends that you follow the FLOWER principle, which stands for: fuel, lights, oil, water, electrics, and rubber. You should aim to carry out these checks every couple of weeks in regular weather, but you may want to increase this to weekly during the winter.
Take these four top tips on board this winter and you will be much better placed to avoid any accidents or breakdowns. And, if the worst should happen, you will be well prepared to deal with the situation.
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