Winter driving tips - Top 5 tricks to safe driving in cold conditions
Follow our top winter driving hacks to keep you and your passengers safe in the rain, frost, and icy conditions of winter
Living in South Africa means that we don’t get the snow and ice that other countries in the North do, but we certainly do have icy and frost-bitten days, rainy and wet roads and in some places, snow.
Driving in wet and cold conditions means you need to be more careful about the way you drive, increase your following distance and be wary of the cars around you.
You have to be EXTRA ALERT when driving in winter and thanks to climate change, the weather is more unpredictable than ever.
Here’s how to drive safely in winter…
1. Keep it slow
When driving in snow or rain, you need to decrease your speed dramatically.
As we said, we don’t really get a lot of snow in South Africa, but if you are visiting or live in one of the snowy regions of our country, then here’s what you need to know…
The trick to driving in snow is to keep it slow. You need to accept the fact that you aren’t going anywhere in a hurry - if you speed you can easily slide out and lose control.
When driving in icy conditions and snow, shift into a lower gear to give you the traction you need to get up hills and keep moving.
When driving in rainy conditions (and in snow) you need to increase your following distance.
This means you need to have a gap of between 5 and 10 seconds between you and the car in front of you.
You can figure this out by finding a fixed object such as a light post next to the road, start counting when the car in front of you passes it, you should get to 5 seconds or more when you pass the same object.
You need to make sure you have enough space to brake in time if you need to.
Remember - when the road is wet, your braking time is longer as your car will naturally skid a bit more and take more time to come to a stop.
2. Turn on your lights
This might sound like a silly point to make - but you need to make sure you have your lights on when driving in winter.
This makes you more visible on the road, which means other drivers are more aware of you.
3. Do not oversteer
If your car starts to slide out, then you must not overcorrect this by steering in the opposite direction - if you do try to correct the slide then your vehicle will spin out.
There are 3 points to remember about oversteering and slide correction.
- Don't hit the brakes: Braking triggers slides and makes existing slides worse!
- Turn into the same direction as the slide: Turn your wheels in the direction the back of your car is sliding - if the back of your car slides to the left, turn the wheel to the left. As your car straightens out, straighten your steering wheel slowly.
- Don't panic and try to overcorrect: Overcorrecting may send the car into a spin which can be very dangerous!
4. Brake gently
When you brake, make sure you do this gently and release the brakes if your wheels start to slide.
If your vehicle does not have anti-lock brakes, then gently tap or pump the brake pedal to slow your care down.
If you have ABS brakes then you need to apply a gentle yet firm, constant pressure if you feel a light shuddering - this is completely normal.
5. Tyre pressure
Make sure your tyres are pumped to the right amount (according to your owner’s manual in your car) and that your tyre tread is at least the minimum and legal tread depth of 1mm (rather aim for 2mm to be safe!)
We hope you keep warm and stay safe this winter. And of course, if you haven’t already, make sure you have vehicle insurance to cover you for the unexpected accidents of bad weather conditions. Trust us, it makes the world of difference.
Yours in uncomplicated car insurance,