Officially, Spring has sprung, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it! The “Beast from the East” has bitten hard this week, but even in normal winter conditions, driving at this time of year can be challenging, with motorists up against short days, poor visibility and plummeting temperatures.
We know that driving is part and parcel of working life for many of our contractor employees, so we’ve put together a useful checklist to help you stay safe in your vehicle in wintry conditions.
Ensure your tyres are inflated to the appropriate pressure and have sufficient tread. The legal limit for tyre tread is 1.6mm but braking distance increases considerably when tread depth gets below 3mm, especially in wintery conditions. Swapping to winter tyres is another option you may want to consider.
It is difficult enough to see where you are going in fog or snow without having a dirty windscreen. Check your windscreen wipers regularly for any damage and replace as necessary. You can keep your wipers clean by wiping them with a cloth soaked in screen wash or malt vinegar and then rinsing with clear water.
Using screen wash in your windscreen washer bottle helps prevent the washer fluid from freezing. Also make sure to check your engine coolant. The antifreeze in the coolant protects the engine and also prevents pipework damage caused by liquid freezing and expanding.
Flat batteries are one of the most common reasons for breakdown call outs in the UK, especially in winter. Car batteries hate the cold and blasting the heat on a cold winter’s morning puts them under severe strain. So get your battery checked to make sure it is up to the job.
Your lights don’t just help you see where you are going, they let other motorists see you. Check all lights regularly including headlights, brake lights and indicators to make sure they are in full working order.
This might sound a strange suggestion for winter time, but the dry warm air of your air conditioning is actually the most effective way to demist your windscreen. Regular use of your air con also means that the system remains charged and will be in good working order come the summer months.
The above tips will ensure your vehicle is winter-ready, but as a motorist you also need to do your bit. It might sound obvious, but keep an eye on your fuel gauge – the last thing you need is to be trekking miles in the snow with a petrol can!
It is also a good idea to carry a winter emergency kit, especially if bad weather is forecast. This should include a shovel, torch, ice scraper & de-icer, blanket or sleeping sleeping bag and some snacks & fluids. Should you get stranded, this kit will help keep you safe and comfortable until help arrives.
Lastly, modify your driving style to suit the conditions and always leave extra braking distance when driving in heavy rain, snow, ice and fog.
The Liquid Friday office will be open until 5.30pm today, so if you have any queries, just get in touch with the team.
Stay safe out there!