How To Drive Safely On Ice And Snow.
Fuelled by poor driving standards, how to drive safely on ice and snow is written in the hope that my experiences as a professional parcel delivery driver working out in all weathers will help those of you who need help when driving in snow and ice.
Winter driving needn't be the nightmare which many people make it out to be. As a parcel driver I first of all have to be sure that my van is in a suitable condition for winter driving.
Below are the minimum checks you must carry out before setting off on a winter journey.
- Tell people where you are going.
- Keep in touch with people.
- Check all fluids, oil, water, brakes, coolant.
- Make sure all lights are in working order.
- Clean all windows and lights.
- Shovel and grit or salt.
- Warm clothes / blanket / snack food / hot beverages.
- Mobile phone.
- Sufficient fuel for journey.
- Ensure your tyres are up to the weather and have good tread depth.
When driving on snow and ice you must remember that the safety of you and other road users is the first priority. Before setting out decide for yourself if the journey is absolutely necessary or can it be delayed until conditions improve. In my case most of my driving is done at work so I have no choice but to make the effort as colleagues and customers will be relying on me.
Before Setting Off.
Driving on snow and ice can be very hazardous and your vehicle should be in a roadworthy condition to tackle winter conditions. After doing all of the minimum checks above you are ready to begin your journey. Assess the situation and check the forecast for where you are headed.
Driving on snow and ice requires great concentration so only drive if you are feeling fit enough to do so. Your driving style must be adapted to the conditions and you must keep this in mind at all times.
Beginning Your Journey.
Because of the conditions your vehicle will perform differently than when driving it in dry conditions. Snow and ice are slippery and you can counteract this by being careful but positive with the use of your controls. By controls I mean brakes, clutch, gears and steering in that order. Smooth use of the controls is what is needed here.
Pulling away - 2nd gear with low revs is required to prevent wheel spin and skidding.
On the move- Drive in the highest gear that you can thinking well ahead should you need to apply the brakes. Brakes should be used to the minimum so the farther ahead you can see the better. When coming to a stop apply even gentle brake pressure so as not to skid.
Be positive- and make progress using the principles above. Drive at a speed which reflects the severity of the conditions. You can still drive at reasonable speeds so long as you are alert and keep scanning the road ahead for hazards should you need to slow or stop. Use the engine braking and gears for slowing as this will alleviate skidding and therefore losing control.
Allow extra time - for your journey and accept the fact that it will take longer than usual.
During The Journey.
It is always a good idea to have your radio tuned to the local radio station to keep abreast of road updates. If conditions worsen, try not abandon your vehicle, but seek shelter in a safe place and park off the road so as not to block the roads preventing emergency vehicles and snow ploughs from getting through.
It is very rare in the UK that conditions remain bad for any length of time, but snow can come down quickly rendering some higher roads impassable.
Because we don't see really bad conditions that often it can mean that drivers don't have experience of driving in snowy and icy conditions and don't adapt their driving to suit them.
I have observed this many times with vehicles losing control on the slightest bit of snow and ice. As with all things, practice makes perfect. The more you do it the more confidence you will get for future bad weather.
Top 10 Tips.
- Drive in highest gear possible.
- Careful use of controls.
- Plan ahead.
- Be positive in driving style.
- Don't travel if it isn't necessary.
- Use gears effectively.
- Use engine braking in high gears.
- Pull away in 2nd gear.
- Don't take risks, particularly at junctions.
- Be considerate to other road users.
For 10 more tips by a fellow article writer click the blue link to take you to 10 Tips for driving in winter.
© poshcoffeeco ( Steve Mitchell )
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© poshcoffeeco ( Steve Mitchell )