The Dangers of Driving: Navigating Your Way Through Winter

The colder weather has well and truly hit- and the glorious summer heatwave already feels like a distant memory. But with the stunning colourful changing leaves, cosy nights in and Christmas being seven short weeks away- who can be mad about it? I always find the months seem to fly at this time of year, one minute you're topping up your tan, and the next you're shopping for your Christmas turkey. But while winter has it's perks, one huge downside is that the weather can really be dangerous. Even here in the UK (where the winters aren't as treacherous as other places in the world) people lose their lives every year as a result of the storms, snow and ice. When you're a driver it's an additional worry, and being out on the roads in winter presents so many extra challenges that you need to be prepared for. Here are some of the ways that you can keep yourself safe on the roads this winter. 

Maintain your car
One of the best ways that you can keep yourself safe on the roads over winter is by properly maintaining your vehicle. You need to regularly be checking your bulbs and the car's fluids, and crucially, your tyres condition. Your tyres are the only part of your car in contact with the road, and can be the difference between life and death. Use a pressure gauge to check the pressure, make sure this matches up to the numbers in your car's manual. A tread gauge will allow you to check that your tyres have at least 1.6mm of tread which is a legal requirement. Any less and you put yourself at a much higher risk of having an accident, especially when the ground is wet and icy over winter. Even something as simple as the wheel alignment being out can throw off your steering. If you've ever bumped a kerb then your car could be out of whack, a wheel alignment company can check this using professional diagnostic equipment. I've had this done myself as my steering was pulling to one side after bumping a kerb quite badly not long after I'd passed my test! It didn't take long and wasn't expensive. As a driver, you should be aware of the importance of car servicing. Having this done on a regular basis can allow a professional to spot any small issues before they become large (and expensive) ones and can even prevent you from breaking down. Lots of things can wear out and need replacing over the course of a year, and servicing can help you to keep on top of this. One car servicing in Northampton is provided by none other than Calmac Tyres Autocentre. Book your service online for free today!

Plan ahead
Slippery roads combined with extra traffic as we get closer to the festive season can be a recipe for disaster. Where possible, always plan your journeys so you can avoid busier times- as well as times where the roads are more likely to be icy. For example, early in the morning the air temperature rises faster than the pavement temperature and can lead to the formation of black ice. This is particularly dangerous as you simply can't see it, if your car slides on this you're at the mercy of your vehicle until you come to a stop. It's tempting to slam the brakes on, but this can cause you to skid and make things a whole lot worse. Check your routes on a sat nav or online before setting off, avoiding congestion where possible and leaving extra time for your journey. This is something I'm always careful to do, I've been driving for close to two years now but I'm not the most confident on the roads. Nothing stresses me out more than angry drivers in a rush and loads of traffic, and with stress is always going to come driving that's not your best. Setting off knowing that you're late could cause you to take more risks- something you never want to be doing, let alone in winter.  

Be prepared for emergencies
Breakdowns and accidents are more common in winter- that's a fact. None of us want to believe it will happen to us, but it's always good to be prepared. Sign up to a breakdown company, you can get cover from places like the AA for a few pounds a month, I pay £5.50 which I really feel is well worth it for the peace of mind it gives me. Storing a blanket, a first aid kit and some emergency supplies in your boot will make the wait for recovery much more pleasant. It's even worth having a power bank to charge your phone in case you end up stranded, if your car completely cuts out then you won't be able to charge it using this, so it's something to think about.

How do you feel about driving in winter? 

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