Guide to safe winter driving

car in the snowEvery morning millions of commuters leave their homes to drive to work. While in summer, an open window, letting in a fresh and warm breeze of air, makes the commute an often perfect start to the day, things are different in winter. Few people know how to properly prepare their car for the new weather conditions. The result: frequent accidents, which in turn cause long traffic jams. In winter 2011, for example, damage to the UK’s economy due to late arrivals of employees because of winter conditions was estimated at 22 billion pounds.[1] In the following, blog.alphabet.com presents three safety tips for winter driving.

1) Winter Driving Tip 1: Change Tyres

To many this might seem like a no brainer. Yet, changing from summer to appropriate winter tyres before the first snowfall is an absolute must. According to the UK Department of Transport Road Accident Statistics accidents due to slippery roads increase by 267% in winter.[2] Still many people underestimate the outcome of driving summer tyres in winter. Even ultra-high performance summer tyres will have no grip at all on a snow-covered road.[3] Winter tyres are the basis for safe driving and on top of that allow for better fuel economy.

2) Winter Driving Tip 2: Adjust your driving style

Today’s cars are equipped with all kinds of gadget: all-wheel-drive, electronic stability control, anti-lock braking system, or even automatic distance control. Yet, do not be tricked into thinking that your car will do the job by itself. Many car drivers, especially those with SUVs, wrongfully interpret their car’s abilities and still speed along iced roads. Rather drive slowly in winter, keep more distance to other cars than usual, and avoid sudden changes in speed. Accelerate and break gradually in order to prevent your car from getting stuck in snow.[4]

3) Winter Driving Tip 3: If you’re stuck in snow...

Scraping ice from the car window

The weather is beyond our control. A sudden snowstorm on a hardly used road can quickly become too much for your car to handle. You desperately try to get your car to move again but the wheels just hopelessly keep spinning making the car sink more and more into the deep snow. Most commuters will not prepare properly for such a case. They wont have a shovel at hand to dig away the snow and a bag of sand to re-establish the much-needed traction. Accordingly, one must be imaginative: Try and get rid off the ice on your tyres by using a sharp object for example, a screwdriver will do perfectly. Hence you can put the floor mats of your car in front of the spinning tyres to create some traction.[5] Whatever misfortunate may happen during your winter commute: be prepared and stay relaxed.

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