Winter is upon us, and with it comes more volatile weather patterns than ever before. The climate crisis has made winter weather extremely unpredictable, whether mild windy days or flash-flooding and even deep snowfall. Naturally, this poses increased risk to drivers in the UK, as natural hazards increase the likelihood of breakdown, accident or injury. What are some essential things a motorist should consider in preparation for winter driving?
Alongside your more tangible efforts to meet the fresh risks of the winter months, you should set aside some time to ensure your car’s documentation is also up to date. The colder seasons have a habit of teasing out previously undetected problems, so you might benefit from fast-tracking your MOT to make sure your car is fully roadworthy and covered for longer.
Insurance is another key part of the equation, for both domestic drivers and tradesfolk reliant on vehicles for their work. For the latter, check that your motor trade insurance is up to date and covers road risks as well as liability; for the former, simply checking that your insurance plan remains adequate is fine. If you drive a company van or a work van, make sure you have cheap van insurance with wide coverage.
One of the most immediate risks your vehicle faces as the winter months arrive relates to its tyres. As air temperatures drop, so too does air pressure – resulting in underinflated tyres despite them being puncture-free. As such, you should take the time to re-inflate your tyres, and also to more directly check the state of your tyre tread.
Traction is more important than ever in the winter, as the roads become icier and more dangerous. With this in mind, you should make sure that your tyres’ treads are not too worn for safe driving. Swapping your tyres out for winter tyres is the simplest way to address this, but if you would like to make your tyres last as long as they can, you only need to make sure they are above the legal 1.6mm threshold for tread depth.
Last but certainly not least, you should put together an emergency kit for your car. This kit should live in your trunk, and keep you prepared for any number of potential accidents or incidents you suffer on the road. Your kit should include de-icing scrapers and sprays, and coats and blankets to keep you warm in the event of a breakdown or snowdrift. You might also include a hazard triangle to notify other drivers of an accident and keep you safe, as well as water and long-life foodstuffs to keep you and your passengers fed and watered in the event of the worst. Depending on the rate of snowfall in your area, you might also benefit from investing in traction tracks to help you get yours or others’ cars out of ruts and snowdrifts.