How to stay safe on the roads in freezing weather and beat the "Beast from the East"

snow raods

The chillingly named "Beast from the East" has hit the UK, bringing winter back in full force. While kids may have time off school, many drivers still have to get to their workplace. Driving in sub-zero conditions, with snow and ice covering the road, can make the most confident of motorist feel anxious. So, to help put your mind at ease, here are some top tips that will help you prepare for your journey and stay safe on the road.

How to prepare your car for freezing weather

First things first: in poor weather conditions, drivers should only get behind the wheel if travel is absolutely necessary. Before you set off, plan your route, check the travel news and weather forecasts for any updates. If you have to drive, you should:

  • Cover your driveway in salt the night before you set off
  • Shield windscreens overnight to prevent cracking
  • Check your oil levels and top up your antifreeze
  • Stock up on de-icer and store a scraper in your glovebox
  • Inspect tyre pressure and tread
  • Check fuel levels, bearing in mind that using your heaters will affect fuel consumption

If snow has fallen overnight, remove all the snow from your roof. As The Sun explains, being caught with snow on your roof or having it fall from your vehicle onto the road could result in a £60 fine and three penalty points.

Worse still, if the snow falls onto another vehicle, you could be charged with ‘driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.’ This offence could lead to a £100 fine and as many as nine penalty points.

What to take in your car 

As the saying goes, hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Conducting checks reduces your risk of breaking down, but accidents can still happen, especially in adverse weather conditions. Make up a winter emergency kit and store in your boot. This can include:

  • Hazard warning triangle
  • Jump leads
  • Fully-charged mobile phone
  • Torch and extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Blanket
  • Warm clothes, such as a winter coat, hat, gloves, scarf and waterproofs
  • Sturdy, comfortable footwear
  • Snacks and water

How to drive in freezing weather conditions

Driving in winter is challenging enough, without the polar vortex adding to it. Our advice for driving in the snow and ice is:

  • Make sure you have your headlights on. Many vehicles now rely on automated daylight sensors so you may have to switch your lights on manually.
  • Use lower revs and higher gears - reduce wheel slip by moving off in second gear.
  • Leave as much as 10 times the normal recommended distance between yourself and the car in front.  
  • When going uphill, leave plenty of room in front to maintain a constant speed and to stop you from changing gear
  • Brake before turning the wheel when approaching a bend
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes or taking your hands off the steering wheel if your car starts to skid.
  • Brake, steer, change gears and accelerate gently, slowly and smoothly

What will it take to keep the country moving?

The UK always seems to suffer badly when it comes to adverse weather conditions, much more than our European neighbours.

Knowing they will face adverse weather every year, Scandinavian countries have invested in snow ploughs and innovations such as heated pavements, BBC News reports.

The Daily Telegraph notes that Sweden’s largest airport, Stockholm-Arlanda, has never once been closed due to snow. Meanwhile, British Airways cancelled 36 flights from Heathrow on Monday as the Beast from the East made its way across the country.

In the UK, we have much more variable winters where the level of disruption is harder to predict but this latest cold spell is more than just a fluttering of flakes.

Promisingly, there has been investment to help the country be more prepared. Highways England has fitted its gritters with telematic systems from Handsfree to ensure they can help to keep the country moving, whilst also maintaining the safety of their drivers.

While you can’t always predict the weather, you can protect yourself from unexpected accidents with quality car insurance. Why not get a quick and easy car insurance quote with us today?  

Quote now for car insurance

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Published: 28th February 2018 (VW)