Driving in winter ‘requires more preparation’

Driving in winter 'requires more preparation' 17th December 2014

Winter can be a treacherous time on the road for drivers. According to official figures from the Department for Transport, last winter saw a reported 57,260 cars involved in accidents across England and Wales as a result of wet, flooded or icy roads. 

And with the Christmas period just around the corner, and people likely to be driving to visit family and friends, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has launched its wheels in winter campaign, urging drivers to make additional use of preparation before they hit the road.

IAM chief executive Nick Stonard said: “Driving in winter requires much more care and preparation. The wheels in winter campaign is part of a national effort to cut the number of road traffic collisions and incidents.”

Preparation for the winter period as a driver relies mainly on making sure your car is in a safe and roadworthy state, ready to tackle the winter roads. 

One of the first things to keep an eye on is the health of your car battery. These are much more likely to fail in colder weather, with RAC reporting 50,000 more failures in winter months as of February 2012, and being stranded at Christmas can leave drivers feeling less than festive.

Knowing how to spot car battery problems can stand you in good stead first and foremost. Generally, the lifespan of a battery will be five years, but if it's older than three years, it can be a good idea to have a new car battery fitted. Changing it near the end of the lifespan will save time and inconvenience of having to do so if it fails.

Other top tips drivers might not think about include making sure you have adequate anti-freeze in the engine. This is important to make sure the water in the engine doesn't freeze and cause casing to crack. 

Using the right anti-freeze is also important, however. For cars made before 1998, the rule of thumb is to use anti-freeze that does not have organic acid technology, while newer vehicles will need a silicate free anti-freeze, although it's always better to check this with your car's handbook. 

And, of course, it's always pertinent to make sure you take your time on the road at this time of year. Give yourself an extra ten minutes at the start of your journey for defrosting and scraping the car and always make sure you have your route planned, especially if you'll be driving on roads you aren't familiar with. 

Posted by Danielle Barge