Are you ready for winter?

The roads throw up all sorts of difficulties during the winter months.

Whether it’s rain or ice on the roads – which can significantly increase your braking distance – or lowered visibility during the shorter days, it’s wise to prepare now before winter truly kicks in.

To help, Regal Rentals has put together a guide complete with some of the key things you should consider.

Preparing your car

• Tyre pressures can drop significantly when the weather gets colder, so it is particularly important to check that your tyres are in good working order and have sufficient tread depth. 1.6mm is the legal limit, but it is a good idea to replace your tyres before they reach this point. Research has also shown that well maintained tyres can have a big effect on stopping distances on slippery roads.
• It goes without saying that you should ensure your windows and mirrors are de-misted before setting off on your journey. Never use water to defrost the windows.
• Check your lights. They can get filthy with spray during winter, so keep them clean and inspect bulbs regularly to ensure that you’ll be prepared for the darker and more difficult conditions.
• Refresh your screen wash and put it into winter dilution mode. And check your wiper blades – do they leave streaks? If so, it’s best to get them replaced.
• Add anti-freeze to your car radiator.
• Pack some extras into your car should you be caught off guard. It’s wise to include a de-icer, ice scraper, snow shovel, gloves, boots, a hat, a torch, a first aid kit and a bottle of water. You should also add food, blankets and a warm drink for longer journeys.
• Always ensure you have a full tank of fuel in case you are delayed.
• Book your vehicle in for a service. This will give you peace of mind that everything is in working order come the winter months.

Preparing for your journey

• Keep in mind that the average braking distance in wet weather is double that of fine weather and this increases ten-fold in icy conditions. So, if you are travelling at a speed of 30mph with no adverse weather conditions, your braking distance would typically be 14m, but in wet weather this would increase to 28m and in icy weather, a staggering 140m.
• During winter, the sun sits lower in the sky and this can result in glare, so don’t put your sunglasses into storage just yet! Remember: if the sun is behind you, it’s facing those drivers coming towards you. It’s important to stay aware.
• Tell someone you trust when you are heading off on a longer journey and advise them of your expected arrival time.

Preparing yourself

• If in doubt, slow down.
• Give yourself extra time to complete your journey.
• Keep your mobile phone fully charged.
• Keep some extra distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you, given larger braking distances in wet and icy conditions (it’s wise to increase the 2 second rule to 4 seconds or more).
• On colder days and particularly on tree-lined roads, be aware that the trees can prevent the sun’s warmth from reaching the road, so there may still be icy patches when areas elsewhere have thawed.
• When driving in snow, use the highest possible gear to avoid wheel spin. Manoeuvre gently and if you do start to skid, ease off the accelerator but don’t brake suddenly.
• If behind salting vehicles, maintain a safe distance behind them and don’t attempt to overtake.
• Should you get into trouble, remember it is illegal to use a mobile phone when driving. Do not stay in your vehicle – find a safe place away from the hard shoulder. The Fire & Rescue Service recommends staying near your vehicle until help arrives, as abandoned vehicles can hold up rescue teams and snowploughs. If you need to leave your vehicle to get help, ensure that other drivers can see you.

Further useful links for winter weather and traffic information can be found here:
Met Office weather updates
Highways Agency travel updates