23 Jul 2018
DRIVING SAFELY IN WINTER
As we get deeper into winter and the mercury continues to drop it’s important to remind ourselves that while our general day-to-day doesn’t change, the ways we drive should. Even though we live in a generally temperate part of the world our winters can be very unpredictable, with bluebird days followed by blizzards, hailstorms and everything in between. Here are a few things to think about next time you hit the road.
Everyone knows you carry plenty of style in the back of your Honda Jazz, but a patch of black ice or a puddle that’s actually a small pond on the side of the road could be the difference between you keeping all four wheels on the tarmac and losing all of it. No matter what state the water’s in it’s important to hold back and allow more braking space. You’ll be confident knowing you have the time and space to get out of the way if necessary. Two seconds is fine in summer but aim for around 4 in winter. With the extra space you can be a little lighter on your pedals too, because locking your brakes in the wet or snow is usually a one-way slide to an insurance claim.
Did you know your tyres lose more pressure in winter? Because air is a gas it condenses and its particles slow down as the outside temperature drops. This isn’t good for a number of reasons. Low tyre pressure increases fuel consumption and wear while making it more difficult to turn when you need to – no good unless you own a gas station or a tyre shop, or both. The easiest time to check your tyres have enough air is to do it the next time you fill up, and the best time is before they’ve warmed up on the road. Most gas stations have digital pumps which let you set the pressure before they automatically pump air in or out as required, and you can usually find the optimal pressure (either in PSI or kPa) on the sidewall of your tyres or in your car’s manual. Easy. Check out our article on the correct tyre pressure.
They look great on rappers and athletes, but in the snow, they’re even better looking on your tyres. If you plan on heading up the mountain or you live in a place where you’re likely to get some regular snowfall, snow chains are a must if you don’t have proper winter tyres fitted. They work by giving your tyres the extra bite required to get traction in ice and snow. But, like a good pair of ski or snowboard boots, they work best when you’ve got the right size fitted. Options are available depending on how often you plan on using them as well, just be sure to keep a pair of gloves in the car for when the time comes to use them!