Tips For Driving In Different Weather Conditions
When setting off for a journey, you can never quite anticipate the weather conditions you may be faced with and how you will have to alter your driving to remain safe.
During driving lessons, your instructor will aim to prepare you as much as possible for any situation you may be faced with on the roads; however, it is often tricky to understand until you have the chance to put your knowledge to the test.
Here we have devised our top tips on how to tackle driving in different weather conditions.
Driving In Different Weather Conditions
Some weather conditions are considerably more dangerous than others and cause more hazards for road users, which is why it is vital to ensure that you have made the correct preparations to suit the time of year.
Whether you are set to start driving, are taking lessons or are an experienced driver looking for extra guidance, we have devised a list of tips on how to drive in each weather condition you may be faced with.
Winter Conditions: Ice and Snow
We thought it would be best to start with the most difficult weather condition to drive in, the one that causes the most dangers – ice and on the rare occasion, snow. The biggest problem with Winter weather is that overnight, a slippery layer forms over road surfaces, making it increasingly harder for tyres to grip to the road. This means as the colder months approach; it is vital to take time to carry out simple tyre maintenance tasks. During the Winter, it is recommended to have a higher tyre tread depth of 3mm as it dramatically increases grip between your tyres and road surface. Always check that your tyre tread depth is not below the minimum depth of 1.6mm. If any lower, it indicates that your tyres are starting to bald and they will no longer have the ability to maintain friction to the road meaning they will need to be replaced. Many different companies such as KwikFit and even Costco are able to carry out tyre replacement quickly and efficiently within as little as a few hours.
When it comes to driving in freezing weather conditions, it is always recommended to plan your journey ahead. Aim to avoid roads that will prove more treacherous such as narrow country roads and small housing estates. Stick to routes that involve main roads as not only are they more likely to be gritted, but you will also have many more drivers around you if there is an emergency or you become stuck. It is also worth keeping an eye out on any road updates to ensure you do not get caught out by road closures.
It is vital to ensure that your windscreen is clear from ice and mist and your car is free from snow before setting off, all of which cause significant blind spots. Although waiting for your windscreen to de-mist may be seen rather boring and takes a long time, it is important to make sure that your visibility is not reduced.
If the weather is particularly bad and there has been heavy snowfall, think twice before considering driving, only drive if it is entirely necessary. When moving off in the snow, always start in second gear rather than first. Although it may seem unfamiliar to begin in any other gear than first, moving straight into second will reduce the risk of wheelspin and skidding. Once you have headed off, brake as slowly and gently as possible especially when turning corners.
Autumnal Condition: Heavy Rain and Fog
Although driving in heavy rain proves less hazardous than icy conditions, it can still be incredibly dangerous.
One of the biggest problems when it comes to driving in the rain is the increase in stopping distance due to the lack of friction between the tyres and road surface. This means that tailgating and driving too close to the vehicle in front of you is a huge ‘no-no’. During dry weather, you should always allow a two-second time gap between your car and the driver in front and in wet conditions, this should be at least doubled. The bigger the distance you give yourself, the more time you allow yourself to react to a situation and act on it to avoid a collision.
Heavy rain can dramatically reduce both your own and other road users visibility, which means using your headlights is vital. Using your dipped headlights will not only ensure that you can make yourself visible in miserable conditions, but it also helps you to be able to spot other road users easily.
Another way to ensure that you maintain full visibility during heavy rain is to check the condition of your windscreen wipers regularly. Over time, with excessive wear and tear, wiper blades can start to crack, crumble and even begin to lift, making them unable to clear your view from rainfall adequately. Every few months, before getting in your car or leaving, just have a quick check that they are still in good working condition.
Along with dark and dismal days often comes fog, which is the worst culprit for reducing visibility. Fog can often become so thick that you cannot see more than 100 metres in front of you. If this is the case, it is time to switch on your fog lights. Rules 234 to 236 of The Highway Code relate to the use of fog lights when driving. It states that rear or front fog lights should not be used unless visibility is dramatically reduced as inappropriate use of fog lights risk dazzling other road users.
Summer Conditions: Bright Sunlight
Summer is often seen as the easiest and least dangerous period of the year to drive in. While this is true, there are a few hazards you should make yourself aware of and understand how to resolve.
Sun glare is the biggest danger during the warmer months and can make it incredibly difficult to see just about anything in front of you, especially if you are driving during sunrise or sunset. Various different factors make sun glare worse, some more surprising than others. The first is leaving your windscreen to collect dust and debris.
Although everyone has been guilty at least once of leaving their car a little too long before taking it to be cleaned, it is essential to make sure that your windscreen remains clear – even if this does end up being the only clean part of your car! A build-up of dirt on a windscreen multiplies the intensity of sun glare and dramatically decreases visibility, which means it is always recommended to top-up your wiper fluid. If you notice that your wiper fluid isn’t doing as much of a good job as it could, consider using a quality glass cleaner and a soft brush to remove dust and debris before your next journey quickly.
As strange as it sounds, leaving litter and clutter in your car can also cause an increase in sun glare. The sun reflects anything that is crisp white in colour, so if you have paper stacked up on your dashboard or even on your passenger seat, it could cause a blinding streak of glare. Try to remember once a week to take all the clutter from your car home and throw away.
Prepare To Drive In All Weather Conditions
All of our driving instructors in Leicester aim to walk pupils through how to handle each weather condition and are happy to answer any questions on how to stay safe. We always suggest that if you are unsure or nervous about driving in a trickier weather condition, you should take some time to research into how to remain safe before setting up. In conditions such as snow, it may even be worth spending half an hour driving around the block before venturing onto a long journey.