Julie Phinn | Senior Claims Negotiator

Driving safely in winter

Winter can be a difficult time to drive.  With Jack Frost and his lovely pals rain and wind getting at the roads, it can be a more difficult endeavour to drive at any distance when compared with driving at “taps aff” weather with your sunglasses and car roof down.

Here are some key things to remember when driving during the winter.  Rule 228 of the Highway Code dictates that when there is weather warnings out for icy and snowy weather, you should only drive when it is essential.  Quick tip – Bottles of red wine are not essential!

If your journey is essential, then according to rule 229 of the Highway Code, drivers must clear all the snow and ice from their windows so they can see the roads around them.  Drivers should also make sure that their lights and number plates are visible to other road users.  It would also be a good idea to plan your journey well and anticipate any potential delays, blockages or other hazards that may arise.  This will mean keeping an eye out for further delays along the way, listening to local radio stations for any more weather or traffic warnings and making sure you have a map nearby just in case you need to stop and check it.  Make sure you have an alternative route.  It may also be a good idea and plan for the worst and keep some supplies of bottled water and food stored in the car in case you become stranded in the vehicle.

When driving in icy and snowy weather (or even just wet weather), please remember that your vehicle’s stopping distances will be greater than normal.  Therefore, you should drive more carefully and deliberately than in ordinary dry conditions.  Any sudden changes of direction or hard breaking is likely to mean that you will lose control of the vehicle, so always try to drive in a way that avoids the need for any sudden movements.

It may also be foggy during the winter.  Rule 226 of the Highway Code dictates that drivers must use headlights when visibility is reduced.  This means drivers should use rear or front headlights if driving through any fog but that these should be switched off as soon as they are out of the fog area so that they avoid dazzling other road users.  This goes for driving in normal conditions as well but drivers should also make sure to keep an appropriate distance from vehicles in front.

It is not unknown to get a spot of rain in the winter in Scotland so drivers should not need reminding but wet road surfaces make driving more precarious. According to rule 227 of the Highway Code, when driving in wet weather you should increase your stopping distances and if the vehicle becomes unresponsive when steering you should ease off the accelerator, slowing down gradually so that you maintain control of the vehicle.

Take care when driving this winter and plan for the worst.  You wouldn’t want to end up being on Santa’s naughty list for driving dangerously this winter!

Julie Phinn


RTA, car, bus van truck, uninsured, fatal Team

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