Cold weather in the UK can occasionally make the roads impassable. This is a lot worse than in Scandinavia, or, say Egypt, where snow is either a fact of life or an impossibility. Intermittent extremes of cold weather mean that few of us are really prepared when the worst of it does strike – and, too often, we’re caught off-guard.
Let’s take a look at a few worthwhile safety tips that will help you to drive through the snow, many of which are taken from the Highway Code. With the right preparation and the right frame of mind, the cold is a great deal easier to cope with.
Top up the anti-freeze
Your engine’s anti-freeze is there to regulate the temperature during extremes of cold or warm weather. As the name might imply, it’s unlike water in that it won’t freeze when the temperature drops below zero. Ideally, you’ll want to shop for an anti-freeze that’s friendly to animals. Certain kinds pose a lethal threat when they leak onto the road surface.
Swap to winter tyres
Winter tyres are made from a special kind of rubber which remains nice and pliant, even when the temperature is extremely low. What’s more, the tread will be a little bit deeper, which will make it easier to get through deep puddles and snowdrifts. If you’re anticipating deep snow, then you might even invest in snow chains.
Check the battery
Batteries are prone to failure during cold weather. Check the health of yours, and if necessary fit a new one. The average car battery will tend to last for seven years, but there’s considerable variation. There are steps you can take to prolong the life of your battery, before it even starts to snow.
If it’s really snowing, then driving quickly might be impossible. But it’s in those marginal cases that we often get caught out. Tend on the side of caution – it’s better to be late than to be involved in a collision.
Plan your journey
If you’re going to be driving in the snow, then it pays to know exactly where you’re going. Open-ended expeditions tend to invite trouble. Make sure that you leave plenty of time, and that you’re up to date with local weather and flooding information.
Check the wipers
Obviously, your windscreen wipers matter a great deal during winter. Make sure that they’re in good working order, and shop for replacements sooner rather than later. Visibility matters when you’re driving in winter.
Keep an emergency kit
Despite all of the measures you’ve taken, you might find that you end up stranded beside the road. This is a situation in which you’ll appreciate having a small emergency kit. This should include blankets, a first-aid kit, and some energy-dense, non-perishable food. Keep it under your seat, and hope you never have to fish it out.