The first time you have to drive in difficult weather it can be tough, and may make you anxious – especially if you are a young driver. But it will, no doubt, be the first of many journeys to come where you’ll find yourself driving in these conditions.
Difficult weather can be anything from rain, snow and ice to fog, thunderstorms and high winds. Driving in difficult conditions isn’t just limited to the weather though. You may even find it trickier to drive if you are in a remote area at night with no street lighting, or when the sun is low in the sky and blinding you.
The more you drive in these trickier conditions, the more confident you will become. Not only will you become more confident, but you’ll understand more, including why it is so important to adjust your driving style during these times – for your safety and the safety of others.
So what should you do when driving in trickier weather conditions?
Generally, you should slow down for all weather conditions for a number of reasons, as well as adapting your driving style to suit the conditions you find yourself driving in. You may find that you are required to brake earlier, as the time for you to stop takes longer than normal in conditions such as rain or ice.
When you find yourself driving in foggy weather you must make sure you have your dipped headlights on, as well as your fog lights if visibility is “seriously reduced”. This is normally having your visibility restricted to below one hundred metres in front of you, according to The Highway Code.
Fog lights help other road users see you, as this light is brighter than your other lights, and front fog lights help you to see better as well. You should also reduce your speed, as reduced visibility means you may be unaware of what lies ahead. Don’t forget to turn your fog lights off once visibility has improved.
More accidents happen during wet conditions than any other time. This can be because rain reduces visibility and requires an increased braking distance. Roads can be liable to flooding and cause you to aqua plane, where you’ll have little control over the car.
To prevent an accident always increase your distance from the car in front and brake earlier than you normally would. Slow down and don’t brake harshly, as your tyres won’t have as much traction on the tarmac.
When it is icy, driving conditions become extremely tricky. Luckily most main roads are gritted, but that doesn’t mean you can drive “normally”. Minor and country roads may not have been gritted and therefore may not only be icy but also have black ice, which is dangerous as you cannot see it.
When the weather starts to change in winter it can be a good idea to change your tyres to winter tyres, and to buy snow chains and snow socks. The AA can provide you with further guidance on snow chains and snow socks, as there are rules that you need to adhere to when placing these on your car. For example, they are not permitted on roads that have been cleared of snow and ice. Winter tyres, snow chains and snow socks, will help your car to grip the road better. This, along with reducing your speed and driving steadily, means you may avoid having an accident.
Extreme wintry weather
When you find that heavy snow has fallen, the best option is to stay where you are. If however you do have to drive there are a few things you can do. Firstly, watch or listen to the local weather to be kept up to date with the current and foreseeable weather forecasts. You can also go online to view updated news on the current road conditions. Plan your journey in advance, and let a family member or friend know your exact route, in case you get into difficulty.
Before you leave, be sure that all car lights are working, that you have a spare tyre or a temporary repair kit to hand, and a warning triangle. Make sure your mobile has full battery too, and stick to main roads. Pack a bag with essentials, should you get stuck, including:
- Warm clothes/reflective clothing
- Ice scraper
- First aid kit
For more in depth information and further details on driving in difficult conditions, why not take a look at our blog posts on what to take with you in the car this winter, driving in snow and ice and driving in fog.<