It's that time of the year again; cold weather is coming back with fog and potentially, snow. How do you ensure that you and your car are ready for this and more?
To help, here are 7 key things to check or to have in your vehicle to be ready for the winter season.
- The safety systems need to be fully understood, but especially before the bad weather sets in (check your manual!):
- ABS (Antilock Braking System) prevents the wheels from completely locking in case of emergency braking, allowing the driver to steer while applying the brakes. This prevents the vehicle from drifting and allows more control.
- ESP (Electronic Stability Program) is often the abbreviation for a traction control (grip) system. For most UK winters and unless using snow chains, studded/winter tyres, ESP should be left on.
- EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) gives full braking capacity in case of emergency by increasing brake pressure.
- Cruise control/speed regulator; not in itself a safety system but it still needs to be checked and used only when appropriate. Also, it should not be activated on icy or very wet roads.
- Low temperature warning light: often red indicating below freezing and orange indicatin below 4 degrees.
1. Your vehicle equipment
needs to be checked for your safety:
- Lighting : it’s essential in winter since the days are so much shorter (think about equipping your vehicle with a box of replacement bulbs);
- Wipers : 90% of our actions are determined by what we see! In periods of rain and snow, it is essential to ensure your wiper blades work effectively. If not, replace!
- The state and pressure your tyres: wet roads, snow and ice are likely to undermine grip ... so ensure your tyres are have plenty of tread - more than the legal minimum! And do not forget to check their pressure at least once a month (including your spare wheel). If possible, we also recommend the fitting of snow tyres.
- Essential elements in your car in winter:
- A scraper to clear your windscreen in the morning. You can also use an de-icing spray to avoid scratching ...
- A windscreen washer resistant to frost: use an antifreeze additive - very convenient to clean your windscreen;
- Tyre chains: only if you live in a mountainous region.
- Some other accessories that may be very useful in case of the unexpected:
- A blanket or a warm coat and hat: these accessories will serve you in case you would break down and need to leave your vehicle in cold weather;
- A torch with extra batteries: do not forget that the night arrives early in winter and a seemingly benign incident (e.g. a flat tyre ) can quickly turn into a nightmare night;
- A phone charger: plan ahead by having what you need to charge your mobile. There is nothing more frustrating or potentially life-threatening than not being able to inform a relative or emergency service due to a discharged battery.
- Drinking water and high energy food (a perfect excuse for chocolate!)
Try to gather information about:
- weather forecasts
- traffic reports
- which roads are routinely gritted and which not
7. Specific winter driver training
Make sure you are well prepared for driving in poor conditions. When you have to drive for work, sometimes you cannot avoid the bad weather, therefore it is key that you have all the skills to tackle winter driving. Whether you are driving your own car for work, you are part of a fleet or you are responsible for drivers inside your company, many different driver solutions can be implemented such as seminars, e-learning modules or shorter "toolbox talks". IAM Drive and Survive offers various way to prepare you for driving this winter.