Driving In Icy Conditions: All You Need To Know
Winter is well and truly upon us, and with it comes a number of hazards. Not only is it important to keep warm during the winter months, both inside and outside, it’s also important for folks to watch themselves on the roads. Icy conditions are responsible for a large number of accidents and fatalities every year. For disabled drivers, keeping safe is even more important, as the conditions make it harder for everyone out on the roads. When you’re already having a tough time driving, this can compound matters. But don’t worry! There are loads of things you can do to help stay safe on icy roads. We break down a few top car safety tips for icy conditions below.
How to Drive in Icy Conditions
Ice can be a major problem for drivers, as it makes roads slippery. The only contact your vehicle has with the road surface is via your tires. Tires are made to grip the traditional rugged top layer of roads, but when ice is a factor, they can’t gain traction. This can lead to the driver not having as much control over the vehicle as they’d usually have. Taken to its extreme, cars can spin totally out of control when faced with a lack of grip. They can also have problems braking, turning, and parking, all of which can lead to minor and major accidents. The best tips on driving in icy conditions usually include proceeding slowly, in the highest gear possible, while maneuvring gently and avoiding harsh braking. Also, as tires are the only contact the vehicle has with the road, it’s best to replace them at the start of the winter season.
Tips on Driving in Icy Conditions
Ice can also inhibit the visibility of the driver. Before you set out on a journey in cold weather, especially in the morning, make sure you clean your windscreen and windows of any ice that might have accumulated during the night. It’s always best to keep a screen scraper and a de-icer in your car at all times, along with a hi-vis jacket and a torch. Don’t use boiling water from a kettle on the windscreen, as this could easily crack the glass. Funnily enough, you might also want to keep a pair of sunglasses in the car with you. The sun is often very low in the sky during the winter months, which can easily impede your visibility with glare.
If you’re wondering how to drive in snow and ice safely, remember that steering should be kept to a minimum. Go far slower than you usually would, and maintain a generous distance between vehicles in front of you. If your car is stick-shift, select the highest gear possible when traveling normally, and the lowest gear possible when going downhill. Other items you’ll want to keep in your vehicle if you’re expecting snow include a two rope, spare bulbs, a shovel, spare fuel, a hazard warning triangle, a car blanket and some appropriate footwear in case you get caught out in a snow storm and have to leave the car.
Also be aware of black ice. This is one of winter’s worst hazards. The telltale sign is a road that looks particularly glossy or shiny, but black ice is very hard to see. It’s almost transparent, the “black” in its name coming from the road surface below. This type of ice is dangerously slick, and can easily derail a vehicle in a matter of seconds. If you encounter it, keep calm, don’t brake suddenly, and try to guide the car through as carefully as possible. Fortunately, most black ice only covers a small amount of road surface.
Tips for Disabled Parking Permit Holders
All this is very important to keep in mind for disabled parking permit holders. Cold weather can be especially difficult for these drivers, even more so than regular road users. Dangerous conditions can make it harder to stop, which means disabled drivers have to be even more aware of other vehicles than usual. In addition, people are more likely to use disabled spots illegally in bad weather, if they can’t find a spot of their own. It’s vital that legitimate permit holders remember to bring their permit with them at all times, especially during bad weather. If a dispute arises, or if a car park is particularly full, you’ll need your permit with you to prove that you can legitimately take a disabled space.
The bottom rule of how to drive in icy conditions is to look out for your safety and the safety of those around you! Although you might be acting correctly on the roads, you can’t be sure everyone else is too. It’s important to keep your wits about you as you drive, and if you’re a handicapped driver, always remember to keep that disabled parking permit with you at all times! Hopefully these car safety tips for icy conditions will help keep you safe and secure this holiday season.