Bognor Tyre and Exhaust

A and D Group

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Driving safely this winter

Driving in the winter is very different than in other times of the year. Adverse weather and longer periods of darkness (especially since the clocks went back at the end of October) makes driving more hazardous, and responsible drivers must adapt their driving style accordingly.

Different weather conditions create different hazards throughout the Winter and in different areas of the country. Here in Sussex, our dark and winding country roads can conceal any manner of obstacles, and those nearer the coast will often experience strong winds.

The key to keeping our roads safe is to be prepared; both yourself and your vehicle. To find out more about keeping your car in check, read this blog from A&D Autos outlining car care do’s and don’ts. In today’s blog, we will provide a few guidelines for adapting your driving style for the winter.

Driving in Rain

Rain reduces your ability to see and greatly increases the distance required to slow down and stop. Remember that you will need about twice your normal braking distance, so allow yourself plenty of time and space to react.

Aquaplaning is the biggest risk when driving in wet conditions. It occurs by driving too fast into surface water, causing the tyre to lose contact with the road as it fails to channel water away. If it happens, ease off the accelerator and brakes until your speed drops sufficiently for the car tyres to make contact with the road again. However, aquaplaning can be avoided by generally reducing speed in wet conditions, and maintaining the correct tyre pressure and tyre tread depth.

If you encounter large puddles or heavy flooding, do not attempt to cross the water if the depth is unknown. Use the kerb as a reference, and if you do decide to cross drive slowly in first gear but keep the engine speed high by slipping the clutch – this will stop you from stalling. Aim for the highest part of the road where the water will be shallowest. Always test your brakes before and after driving through water.

Driving in Fog

The Highway Code states that headlights must be used when visibility is reduced - specifically, when it’s reduced to less than 100m or 328 ft (roughly the length of a football pitch). Since visibility is reduced, keep music off so you can listen to the road instead. Familiarise yourself with your front and rear fog lights and use them when appropriate. Be sure to turn them off as soon as visibility improves, and turn off rear fog lights if there is someone behind you to avoid dazzling them.

Don’t ‘hang on’ to the rear lights of the car in front for guidance as you’ll likely be too close to them. Always maintain plenty of space between you and the car infront; implementing a 3-second rule. If someone is tailing you in the reverse situation, don’t accelerate to get away from them.

Driving in Strong Winds

Remember that wind rarely blows steadily, and sudden gusts can catch you off guard no matter how experienced you are. This can happen at any time, but there is a higher risk on open stretches of road, when passing bridges or gaps in hedges, or when overtaking high-sided vehicles.

The biggest problems to be aware of are being blown off course, having other vehicles blown into you, and fallen trees or other debris. The important things to remember are to keep both hands firmly on the wheel at all times, to keep speed down, and to give cyclists, motor cyclists, horse riders, and high-sided vehicles plenty of space.

Driving in Snow & Ice

When driving in snow and ice it’s crucial to get your speed right - not too fast that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when you need it. It goes without saying, the stopping distance can increase up to 10 times in ice, so reduce your speed to give yourself plenty of time to react. It’s also important to brake, steer and accelerate as smoothly as possible. Start gently in 2nd gear and avoid high revs to reduce wheel spin, and once driving, stay in as high as gear as possible for better control.

Remember that checking the condition of your tyres is essential in all weather conditions - particularly when gripping the road could be compromised. If you have any queries or concerns that could affect the safety of you and your family this winter, be sure to ask the experts sooner rather than later.

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