The nights are drawing in and the days are getting shorter; blink and we’ll be in the middle of another full-on winter. Anyone who is a regular driver will know that driving in winter comes with its own particular challenges and is a potentially dangerous time to be out on the roads. We can expect to deal with things such as reduced visibility; snow or icy conditions; severe wind and rain; and even the possibility of breaking down in the cold and dark. We thought it would be timely to offer some road safety advice for disabled parking permit holders, which also serves as general winter road safety guidance for every driver venturing out on the roads this coming cold season.
Drive more slowly!
This may seem like an absolute no-brainer, but stats show that many drivers do not slow down in difficult or dangerous weather conditions. If you reduce your speed, you are more easily able to take in what’s going on in terms of potential hazards and what other drivers are doing, and you’ll also be able to stop more quickly if you have to brake suddenly. People are always in a hurry, so another winter road safety tip that goes hand-in-hand with this one is to allow plenty of time for your winter journeys.
Check oil, water, anti-freeze and tires
Sensible winter road safety advice is to always to check your oil and water levels, as well as the condition and pressure of your tires, before heading out on a long journey. Too often drivers underestimate the importance of tires when it comes to driving safely. They are your only contact with the road, so treat them with respect! Make sure they have at least the minimum tread depth and are at the correct pressure. This is particularly important when driving in wintry conditions. Anti-freeze is obviously vital in the winter, too, so be sure to check that your engine has some if it needs it.
Ensure good visibility
This is another key piece of winter road safety advice. The weather can change quickly during our less clement months, so it’s important to make all these checks before you leave the house. Ensure that your lights, windshield, rear and side windows, and number plates are all clear and visible to other road users. If your car is iced up, be sure to clear the ice from the windshield (don’t pour hot water on it, it might crack!) before applying your wipers.
Know and understand how your brakes work
This could literally be a lifesaver. Check your car manual to find out if your brakes have Electronic Stability Control (ESC) or perhaps an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS), and learn how such technologies can assist safe driving in demanding weather conditions.
Don’t use cruise control
Cruise control is a cool invention, but it does allow your concentration to wonder a little at times – and in potentially hazardous driving conditions, you need to be 100% focused and totally in control of everything you’re doing.
Use your lights
Again, this tip should be a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised at how many people don’t follow it! It’s actually one of the key winter road safety tips that folk love to ignore. You must use your lights to see and be seen. They’re not just there to be used in the dark; you need them in foggy conditions, whenever there’s medium to heavy rainfall, and when the sky is dark and gloomy. You should only use dipped headlights in fog and in snowy conditions, to aid visibility.
This is always good advice prior to any long journey, but it’s a particularly important piece of winter road safety advice. Plot your route in advance and try to stick to main roads where possible; take some warm clothing and some food, drink, and a blanket in case of a breakdown or one of those pesky long traffic jams. Ensure your cell phone is fully charged before leaving the house.
This is really an extension of our previous winter road safety tips. You never know what you might need and when, so we suggest carrying a few extra things in your vehicle during the winter months, such as:
- a high-vis vest
- spare gas and oil
- a hazard warning triangle
- a tow rope
- a de-icer
- a torch (check it’s working!)
- a first aid kit.
If you’re a disabled parking permit holder, it’s important for you to be safe on the roads at all times, of course – but it’s particularly necessary to be mindful of winter road safety. A breakdown or accident is not nice for anyone at any time of the year, but add in a disability and difficult weather conditions, and it becomes extremely daunting. You may not easily be able to leave your car, or to walk the distance to another car or a place of shelter. Cold weather might make a lung or heart condition worse. Simply being on the road as a disabled driver can sometimes be a challenge in itself, so you don’t want to throw in any unwanted situations.
All of our tips above work as sensible road safety advice for disabled parking permit holders. If you don’t yet own a disabled parking permit, but think you might qualify for one, we recommend applying online. This is a quick and stress-free option for you. Once you own a permit, you will need to keep it up-to-date and renew it when required, otherwise you’ll be breaking the law if you continue to park in designated disabled parking spaces. (Find out all you need to know about renewing you permit before it’s too late!) Once you’ve applied for your permit, keep it up-to-date and get winter-ready now with all of our winter road safety tips and suggestions.