During the winter, advanced drivers take care not to be caught out by conditions or their vehicle maintenance. Monica recently put together the text below for a local (non-driving) group who wanted some tips about driving at this time of year. You may find it useful either in your own driving, or to pass on to others (local focus groups, publications, etc.) Thanks to Monica for compiling this list.
Walk around your car and check tyres for any lumps or if any of them are flat.
Do you know your tyre pressures, or where to find them in your car? Most cars have a sticker either on the driver’s door jamb, or under the fuel filler cap.
Depth of tyre tread - the legal requirement is 1.6mm. In the UK, car tyres MUST have a tread depth of at least 1.6 mm across the central three-quarters of the tread and around the entire circumference of the tyre. It’s the law.
To check your tyre tread depth by using a 20p coin:
You can see if your tyres are close to the 1.6mm legal tread depth by using a 20p coin. Stand the coin in a groove in the tyre tread. If you can see the outer rim of the coin, then the tyre is approaching the legal minimum tread depth and you should consider replacing it. You need as much grip as possible particularly in the winter with wet roads, possible slippery surfaces from oil spills, ice and snow.
Clean all your windows and mirrors from heavy dew, daily if necessary. On dull misty days you need to gain as much vision as possible of other vehicles. Don’t forget to clear snow from the roof your vehicle too. You should not let movement let it fall off in the road behind you.
Have you checked how clean your headlights are, and other lights on your car? Not only do you need to see, but be seen by other road users. Do this daily in winter. When roads are wet, a lot of dirt and muck gets thrown up from the vehicle in front of you or passing lorries. If you have Daylight Running Lights (DRLs), remember they are only on the front of the car, not the rear. Think about putting on dipped head lights as very often on dull/murky days, cars merge into the surrounding hedgerow, and you need to be seen from the rear.
Make sure that ALL your lights are working. You can check them with someone else, or on your own, using reflections in a garage door or neighbour's window or another car. Then reverse and do the same for rear lights. Dipped headlights, headlights, indicators (back and front) reversing light(s) and fog lights.
Remember at the end of a journey, before you switch the engine off, switch all lights off.
Driving in fog
Fog lights don't need to be switched on at 09:00, if fog is forecast for later in the day, or the evening, as so many people do at this time of year. They should be used as you would use wipers in the rain, i.e. if the fog clears (or visibility is greater than 100 m or 325ft) you should turn them off. They can be switched back on when the next dense patch of fog is reached.