Safety is always the primary concern when driving. With these tips, you can be safer in those less than ideal driving conditions.
1. Learn the road, know your car
- Before you go, know your vehicle. Familiarize yourself with the position and operation of its controls.
- Plan your route to avoid back roads. Then memorize it so that you’re not distracted by looking at directions or a map.
- Tune the radio to pick up travel bulletins.
- The cardinal rules in any kind of bad weather are to limit your speed and keep your distance.
- Ask yourself if your journey is really necessary. Never drive in extreme weather if you don’t have to.
2. Make yourself a road emergency kit
Prepare your vehicle by ensuring you have all you might need in an emergency, including:
- Cell phone
- Tow ropes
- Booster cables
- A jack and spare wheel
- Warning triangle
- Sacking to lay under stuck wheels
- Extra clothing
- Hot drink in a thermos
- In heavy snow, you might need snow chains
3. Stay safe in high winds
- Buffeting winds can rock a car and make steering difficult, as well as blowing tree branches and other debris into your path.
- Keep your eyes peeled for hazards and grasp the wheel firmly with both hands, especially when overtaking another vehicle.
- Be particularly careful around caravans and bikes, which may be blown off course.
4. Keep alert in heavy rain
- Allow twice the normal stopping distance and test your brakes. Lightly press the brake pedal from time to time as the friction will help to keep them dry.
- Drive with dipped headlights to decrease glare, and put your wipers on fast mode.
- When you can’t see for more than 100 metres (320 feet), use headlights.
- If you find yourself aquaplaning, don’t brake. Ease off the accelerator to slow down gradually. Grip the wheel and get ready: when the tires regain their hold it can cause the car to swerve.
- Never drive into standing water too deep for your car. Drive through shallow water at a steady crawl, keeping the revs high by using a low gear.
- After driving through a puddle, test your brakes as soon afterwards or when it’s safe to do so.
- If you can’t tell how deep the water is, don’t venture in.
When taking to the road in adverse weather conditions, always put safety before punctuality. Better to arrive late, and in one piece, than take unnecessary risks.