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Driving in Winter - Tips and Advice

Driving in rainDriving in Winter has its own 'unique challenges' and it requires important adjustments to you’re your driving techniques.

The first thing to realize is that a wet road surface requires a greater stopping distance; consequently you must either reduce your speed, increase the distance between the vehicle in front, or both depending on the circumstances. You will also need to adjust your driving when it is raining because combined with water spray from other vehicles this contributes to a large reduction in your vision.

Driving in winter fog can create fatal conditions and it continues to stagger me, the speed at which people will drive in foggy conditions. You often here of multi-car pile-ups on freeways where vehicles just keep crashing into each other and the risks are multiplied even further at night. Reduce your speed to a point, so that you can stop before the limit of your vision. In other words, if you can only see 100 feet make sure you can stop in 80 feet, simple!

Whether you have a Drivers License or not, learning the best practices for Driving in Winter and in general, is essential for safe motoring, here are two great programs I recommend you visit:

Tips for Driving in Winter:

  • Reduce your speed.
  • Turn your headlights on to increase your visibility to other drivers.
  • Slow down when cornering.
  • Replace the wiper blade inserts before each winter
  • Allow a greater distance to stop and apply your brakes gently.
  • Apply a good quality car wax to your windscreen so that the water beads.
  • Accelerate smoothly to prevent wheel spin.
  • Turning your air conditioner on with your heater will demist your windscreen quicker.
  • Avoid braking on painted lines or streetcar tracks; they are very slippery compared to the main road surface.

When Driving in Winter, topping up the radiator coolant level regularly can be forgotten in cool conditions; if the level gets too low your heater will not be as efficient and may stop heating altogether, or even worse cook your engine.

Following the wheel marks of the vehicle in front of you may increase road adhesion as there is less water lying there.

Be very aware of driving at speed through areas where water is laying on the road from blocked drains etc, as this can cause the vehicle to 'aquaplane'. As the name implies you will be 'flying' on water and lose control because you cannot steer the vehicle and the brakes have little effect due to the film of water between the tires and the road surface.

Another tip for driving in winter rain or through puddles, is to apply the foot brake gently as you are driving every now and again, even if you don't have to stop, because the brake pads become waterlogged and your braking efficiency can be greatly reduced. Applying the brake helps to heat the pads and dry them out.

Be watchful of oil lying in sections of the road where the vehicle changes direction or motion like cornering, heavy braking, particularly tight turns on roundabouts or sudden dips in the road.

Oil accumulates in these places due to oil leaks from the vehicle where the oil drips onto cross members and flat surfaces under the car and when there is a momentum shift it then slides off and onto the road. Watching for this anytime is a good practice, but even more so when driving in winter due to the frosty, wet and dewy conditions that are more common.

You might like to read more driving safety tips if you found this article on driving in winter helpful, below:

Driving in snow
Tips on Driving
Driving safety tips

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