As we make our way towards the colder months of the year, the drop in temperature worsens road conditions, while the shorter days mean more night driving. It is therefore no surprise that the number of breakdowns and accidents vastly increase in the winter. However, by taking precautions, driving at this time of the year shouldn’t be a hassle.
Get in gear
Small changes in your driving can make a huge difference in the winter. Using a higher gear when you set off will reduce the chance of spinning the wheels, something you definitely don’t want to be doing on icy roads. Pulling away in second gear rather than first will help you keep control of your wheels, as will being gentler with the clutch and throttle.
Sharp application of the brakes can make your car skid, which means losing control of your car. When this happens on ice your vehicle skids even further, and you have even less ability to stop. Therefore, using your brakes carefully is even more paramount in the winter.
Think about your speed
The faster you travel the more difficult your car is to control. Reducing your speed will make your car easier to control; plus, this will also give you more time to react to developing situations, as will leaving a much bigger stopping distance between you and the vehicle in front.
You may find changing your route to work will help in making your journey safer, even if it takes you longer to get there. Major routes are more likely to have been gritted, while routes with higher levels of traffic will help prevent snow from settling and ice from forming.
Time for new tyres?
Changing to winter tyres will help your car grip better to the icy roads. Winter tyres differ from summer tyres as they use a softer rubber, and the surface of their tread blocks is covered with little jagged slits with deeper tread grooves. Many models have little spikes to further improve the grip.
We recommend that you keep a winter emergency kit in your car, which includes items that will help tackle the short days and the cold weather – like a warm blanket, a shovel, an ice-scraper and de-icer, a torch and batteries, non-perishable snacks like cereal bars and extra screenwash. It is also recommended that you have a warm winter coat, scarf, hat, gloves and warm clothes as well as waterproofs, sturdy footwear, and a flask of hot drink for journeys you take during more severe cold weather conditions.
By being a little more cautious and aware with your driving, and allowing extra time for your winter journeys, major incidents can be avoided. And, of course, if weather conditions get extreme it is best not to travel at all.
For VW cars, we offer advice on winter tyres (only effective at certain temperatures) and check out our video produced by VW on winter driving advice.