1: Ensure you car is up to date with servicing, a well maintained car is much more reliable. Check the oil level, tyre pressures, coolant level, brake and clutch fluid and screenwash (ensure you don’t top up with just water as it will freeze).
2: Check tyre tread depths the legal limit is 1.6mm however for winter driving 3mm is recommended as stopping distances will be greatly reduced, with general grip being improved. Also consider fitting winter tyres.
3: Keep warm clothes in the car, water, food and a shovel in case you become stuck.
4: Keep your mobile phone charged up or consider purchasing a car charger.
5: Have your battery checked, it has to work extra hard in the winter. Most garages will do a winter health check for free.
6: Employ good driving techniques. Plan as far ahead as possible, coming off the gas early to avoid harsh braking especially in very bad conditions. Changing down through gears will help slow the car minimising the risk of skidding (drive the car as if it has no brakes).
7: Steering into turns smoothly will reduce the risk of skidding. If the car does lose traction at the rear (oversteer) turn into the skid and avoid braking at all costs as this will make the skid worse. In a front wheel drive car, accelerate to pull the car out of the skid. If the car looses traction at the front (understeer) come off the gas, don’t brake and try to regain control by straightening the wheels and turning in more gently. Remember prevention is better than cure.
8: Keep safe distances. Stopping on ice can take 10 times longer than on a dry road.
9: Avoid wheel spin when moving off by using either just the clutch in a diesel, or by using higher gears.
10: Leave plenty of time to avoid having to rush.
If you feel unsure about driving in harsh conditions why not contact Cambridgeshire Driving School for advice or to arrange a winter driving lesson in a safe, controlled environment.