We’re two sleeps away from Christmas, and it won’t be long until we are celebrating a new year!

In the mist of all the excitement that the festive period brings, it’s important that we do not forget the unforgiveable change in weather, which is likely to get worse as we progress further into the winter months.

The number of reported car breakdowns tends to rise during winter, as drivers are challenged by hazardous conditions.

Before getting behind the wheel
Failed car batteries are the number one culprit for breakdowns; it is therefore crucial that you make sure that your battery is fully charged before heading out onto the road. Although batteries tend to have a maximum lifespan of five years, they should be inspected at regular intervals. To preserve your car’s battery life, be sure to turn off lights, heaters and any built-in electronics when the engine is not running.

If you anticipate not driving your car for a long duration of time, you should still be turning on the car engine regularly to warm up the battery and prevent it from dying.

Wind shield wipers and tyres should also be tried and tested before starting your journey, as they too are particularly susceptible to problems.

Besides the vehicle itself, planning is a fundamental stage in ensuring that you arrive at your destination without any trouble.
The Met Office is a useful website to bookmark on your phone or computer so that you can stay updated on any changes in the weather and/or road conditions within your area.

Emergency services strongly advise against driving in severe weather conditions such as ice and snow. However, if it is absolutely necessary that you drive, you should let someone know where you are going and what your estimated arrival time is.

Driving in snow and ice
The adverse weather demands that you are extra cautious when behind the wheel. Here are just a few tips to help equip you during the cold season:

  • Where possible, stick to driving on main, highly populated roads as it is more likely that these roads would have been treated with grit.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and dry. Sunglasses are also handy to help eliminate the glare of the winter sun on the snow.
  • You may want to consider having an in-car charger for your mobile phone in case of an emergency. The AA has a useful check list for things to carry in your car when diving in winter.
  • Reduce your speed but not to the point where you are becoming dangerous to other road users.
  • Leave an adequate space between you and the driver in front; the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommends leaving ten times the normal distance for breaking.
  • To break, switch to a lower gear ahead of time. Your car will gradually begin to slow down, allowing you to break gently. Breaking in such a way will help prevent your wheels from locking.
  • Accelerate slowly at all times, taking extra precaution when driving around bends.
  • If you get stuck in snow, move your car slowly backwards and forwards using the highest gear possible.

For more information on how to drive safely during the winter season, click here